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OF FLORIDA 
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Conceptual 

Systems 

and 

Personality 

Organization 



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in 2010 with funding from 

Lyrasis Members and Sloan Foundation 



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Conceptual 

Systems 

and 

Personality 

Organization 



O. J. HARVEY, University of Colorado 
DAVID E. HUNT, Syracuse University 
HAROLD M. SCHRODER, Princeton University 

New York ■ London, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 



Copyright © 1961 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

All Rights Reserved 

This book or any port thereof must not 

be reproduced in any form without the 

written permission of the publisher. 



Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 61-15400 
Printed in the United States of America 



Preface 



This book is an outgrowth of interaction among the three authors 
during the last several years. Our initial aim in these discussions was 
to consider overlapping aspects of each of our research projects. How- 
ever, the focus of our discussions very soon turned toward an attempt 
to delineate some general principles which would accuratelv represent 
and integrate our ideas. The purpose of this book, therefore, is to 
articulate our own thinking through setting forth a general viewpoint 
and applying it to several diverse content areas in psychology. The 
aim is to apply a rather broad integrative net to problems with the 
hope that such application may indicate to us, as well as to the 
reader, areas in which investigations are required. 

As a consequence of this goal the reader should not expect to find 
a definitive or traditional account of the diverse topics covered, which 
include conceptual structure, child development, training methods, 
attitude change, psvchopathologv, and personality measurement. The 
most central belief shared by the authors of this book is that many 
topics and problems in psychology, often treated separately, may be 
better understood and integrated if considered from a common view- 
point. 

In applying our general assumptions to numerous problems, no 
doubt we have overextended their appropriateness. But we would 
agree strongly with William James that the only adequate test of a 
theoretical position is to bring it to bear on as many problems as 
possible, even until the threshold of absurdity may be attained. So 
this we have done, mindful of our violation of the oft-repeated 'law 
of parsimony" as it is promulgated by psychology. We remain unsure, 
however, of whether "real" parsimony is better served by a minimum 
of inclusive theoretical assumptions or a maximum of exclusive ones. 
Surely it will some day become a simple truism that the theory is best 
which is both most inclusive and most exclusive, which will tell us in 
what ways more things are of common dimensions, and in what ways 
more things are of different dimensions. 

This book emphasizes mediational processes, concepts or programs, 
as the integrative unit. It is strongly functional in orientation focusing 



upon the nature of adaptation to a changing environment as a conse- 
quence of differences in conceptual structure. In stressing adaptability 
to change we have been less concerned with the level of performance 
in a relatively constant environment. We recognize that this latter 
component, the level of performance in an unchanging environment, 
is an important concern in any situation in which sheer achievement 
or output is the major goal. However, in this view, gross level of 
performance is not an adequate criterion for differentiating between 
different levels of adaptability. Conceptual evolvement is described in 
terms of the increasing effectiveness of adaptability to change. 

As a result of our aim and approach, we have not written with any 
particular circumscribed audience in mind. The book should, how- 
ever, hold potential interest for persons (whether undergraduates or 
research workers) who share our belief about the importance of un- 
derstanding psychological problems through the use of a common 
viewpoint. Also, we hope that some readers may find certain of our 
(unsupported) assertions or derivations sufficiently divergent from 
their own viewpoint that they will be impelled to conduct investiga- 
tions to attempt to refute the hypotheses. 

Like most authors we have experienced the unavoidable vexation 
of not being able to include relevant sources which either have ap- 
peared or have been discovered after completion of the final draft. 
We feel particularly unfortunate in being unable to refer to the fol- 
lowing recent and highly relevant works: D. E. Berlyne, Conflict, 
Arousal, and Curiosity. New York: McGraw Hill, I960; G. Miller, 
E. Galanter, and K. Pribram, Plans and the Structure of Behavior. 
New York: Holt-Dryden, 1960; M. Rokeach, The Open and Closed 
Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1960; and R. W. White's paper, "Com- 
petence and the psychosexual stages of development," in the Nebraska 
Symposium on Motivation, 1960. 

We wish to express our appreciation to the Office of Naval Research 
and to the National Institute of Mental Health for supporting our re- 
search activities during the last several years. Thanks are due also 
to our three universities — University of Colorado, Syracuse University, 
and Princeton University — for providing either faculty fellowships or 
other means of reducing the usual academic demands which permitted 
a greater concentration of time for completing the book. We are espe- 
cially grateful to Dr. Ralph L. Dunlap who read the entire manu- 
script and made numerous valuable suggestions, many of which we 
have incorporated. We will not attempt to list all of the many students, 
colleagues, assistants, and typists who have contributed in many dif- 
ferent ways to the current work, but we appreciate their assistance. 



PREFACE Vll 

At this point we are not certain whether to thank or admonish our 
wives for their support during the development of this book. How- 
ever, we do deeply acknowledge their tolerance. 

Since there is no senior author and no attempt to imply any differ- 
ential contribution to the final outcome, the authorship listing follows 
an alphabetical order. 

O. }. H. 

D. *E. H. 

H. M. S. 
June, 1961 



Acknowledgments 



We wish to acknowledge with thanks the courtesy extended by the 
following publishers, journals, and authors in granting permission to 
reprint excerpts from the indicated works: 

Addison-Wesley Publishing Company for material from J. S. Bruner 
and R. Tagiuri in G. Lindzey (Ed.), Handbook of Social Psy- 
chology. 

George Allen & Unwin Ltd. for material from L. Levy-Bruhl, Primitive 
Mentality. 

The American Medical Association and T. Lidz, Alice Cornelison, 
Dorothy Terry, and S. Fleck for excerpts from an article in 
Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry. 

The American Psychological Association and respective authors for 
material from articles in the Journal of Abnormal and Social 
Psychology by J. Bieri and E. Blacker, by J. Birren, by R. W. 
Brown, by A. J. Caron and M. A. Wallach, by M. Deutsch and 
H. B. Gerard, by J. L. Gewirtz and D. M. Baer, by A. R. Jensen, 
by J. C. Mark/ by J. McDavid, by R. F. Peck/ and by E. S. 
Schaefer; for material in the Journal of Consulting Psychology 
from an article by C. R. Rogers; for material in Psychological 
Monographs from an article by K. Goldstein and M. Scheerer. 

The American Sociological Association and E. H. Powell for material 
from an article in American Sociological Review. 

Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc. for material from D. C. McClelland, 
J. W. Atkinson, R. A. Clark, and E. L. Lowell, The Achievement 
Motive and from P. M. Symonds, The Psychology of Parent- 
Child Relationships. 

Basic Books, Inc. for material from Maxwell Jones, The Therapeutic 
Community. 

J. and A. Churchill, Ltd. for material from an article by T. A. Lambo 
in the Journal of Mental Science. 

Columbia University Press for material from K. Lewin and from 

J 

J. Piaget in D. Rapaport (Ed.), Organization and Pathology 
of Thought. 
The Denver Post for an excerpt from an article by Bob Whearley 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



entitled "Alabaman Views Segregation as God's Will — Methodists 
Won't Set Integration Target Date." 

Duke University Press for material from articles by J. W. Getzels and 
E. G. Guba and by C. G. McClintock in the Journal of Person- 
ality. 

The Family Service Association of America for material from an 
article by D. W. Goodrich and D. S. Boomer in Social Casework. 

The Free Press of Glencoe, Illinois, for material from A. F. Henry 
and J. Short, Suicide and Homicide: Some Economic, Sociological 
and Psychological Aspects of Aggression, and from F. Redl and 
D. Wineman, Children Who Hate. 

Grune and Stratton, Inc. and respective authors and editors for 
material by D. P. Ausubel, Ego Development and the Personal- 
ity Disorders, and by D. M. Levy in P. H. Hoch and J. Zubin 
(Eds.), Psychopathology of Childhood. 

Hall Syndicate, Inc. for special permission to quote a caption from 
"Dennis the Menace" cartoon. 

Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc. for material from G. Murphy, His- 
torical Introduction to Modern Psychology, and from J. Piaget, 
The Moral Judgment of the Child, and The Child's Conception 
of the World. 

Harper and Brothers for material from H. A. Witkin, Helen B. Lewis, 
M. Hertzman, Karen Machover, Pearl B. Meissner, and S. Wapner, 
Personality through Perception, from E. Hoffer, The True Be- 
liever, from Frances L. Ilg and Louise B. Ames, Child Behavior, 
and from G. Murphy, Personality: A Biosocial Approach. 

D. C. Heath and Company for material from R. Ergang, Europe from 
the Renaissance to Waterloo. 

Paul B. Hoeber, Inc. and the author for material from an article by 
S. Rado in Psychosomatic Medicine. 

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. for material from Erich Fromm, 
Escape from Freedom. 

International Universities Press, Inc. and the author for material by 
H. Werner, Comparative Psychology of Mental Development 
(Rev. Ed.). 

The Journal of Conflict Resolution of the University of Michigan for 
excerpts from an article by R. Abelson. 

The Journal Press for material from an article by R. R. Sears, J. Whit- 
ing, V. Nowlis, and Pauline Sears in Genetic Psychology Mono- 
graphs. 

The Macmillan Company for material from A. N. Whitehead, Modes 
of Thought. 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press and John Wiley 
& Sons for material from C. Cherry, On Human Communication: 
A Review, A Survey, and A Criticism. 

McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc. for material from R. Grinker and J. 
Spiegel, Men under Stress, and from K. Lewin, A Dynamic Theory 
of Personality: Selected Papers. 

New York University Press for material from H. Cantril and C. 
Bumstead, Reflections on the Human Venture. 

North-Holland Publishing Company for material from articles by 
M. D. Vernon and by R. G. Barker in the Proceedings of the 
Fifteenth International Congress of Psychology, Brussels, 1957. 

W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. for material from E. H. Erikson, 
Childhood and Society, from G. A. Kelly, The Psychology of Per- 
sonal Constructs, and from R. P. Smith, "Where did you go?" 
"Out." "What did you do?" "Nothing." 

Prentice-Hall, Inc. for material from J. B. Rotter, Social Learning 
and Clinical Psychology. 

Research Center for Group Dynamics of the University of Michigan 
for material from articles by W. G. Bennis and H. A. Shepard 
and by M. Haire and Willa F. Grunes in Human Relations. 

The Ronald Press Company for material by H. S. Coffey in L. A. 
Pennington and I. A. Berg (Eds.), An Introduction to Clinical 
Psychology, by G. S. Klein in R. R. Blake and G. V. Ramsey, 
Perception, An Approach to Personality, by S. Rosenzweig in 
J. McV. Hunt (Ed.), Personality and the Behavior Disorders, 
by R. W. White, The Abnormal Personality. 

Rutgers University Press for material from D. W. Brogan, America 
in the Modern World. 

Social Forces of the University of North Carolina for material from 
an article by R. K. Merton. 

Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. and the respective 
authors for material from articles by Eleanor E. Maccoby and 
by Lawrence K. Frank in Child Development. 

Stanford University Press for material by E. E. Jones and J. W. 
Thibaut in R. Taguiri and L. Petrullo (Eds.), Person Perception 
and Interpersonal Behavior. 

John Wiley and Sons for material from F. Heider, The Psychology 
of Interpersonal Relations, from M. B. Smith, J. S. Bruner and 
R. W. White, Opinions and Personality, and from J. Thibaut 
and H. H. Kelley, The Social Psychology of Groups. 

The University of Nebraska Press for material by H. Levin and 
A. L. Baldwin in the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 1959. 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



The William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation for material from 
articles by Ruth Benedict, by T. Tietze, and by Susan Reichard 
and C. Tillman in Psychiatry. 

Yale University Press for material from D. Riesman, The Lonely 
Crowd, from Harriet Linton and Elaine Graham in I. L. Janis 
and C. I. Hovland et al. (Eds.), Personality and Persuasibility, 
and from J. Whiting and I. Child, Child Training and Personality: 
A Cross-Cultural Study. 

We also wish to thank: A. R. Anderson and O. K. Moore and the Office 
of Naval Research for excerpts from an ONR Technical Report, 
Herbert C. Kelman for excerpts from an unpublished manu- 
script, and Adrien Pinard for excerpts from a paper presented in 
1959 at Yale University. 






Contents 



1. Overview 1 

2. Nature of Concepts 10 

3. Conceptual Functioning and Motivation 50 

4. Stages of Conceptual Development 85 

5. Training Conditions Influencing 

Conceptual Development 113 

6. Structure of Conceptual Systems: 

Dimensions of Personality 158 

7. Functioning of Conceptual Systems 204 

8. Situational and Dispositional Determinants: 

Their Measurement and Effect 244 

9. Extreme Forms of Conceptual Functioning: 
Psychopathology 272 

10. Modification of Conceptual Systems: 

Education and Psychological Therapy 326 

Bibliography 347 

Name Index 363 

Subject Index 368 



Overview 



The belief that psychological activity is the joint product of sit- 
uational and dispositional factors is a basic assumption in many psy- 
chological viewpoints, whether cognitive, psychophysical, or functional. 
One consequence of this interdependent determination is that in order 
to evaluate the effect of either situational or dispositional factors, the 
interrelated effect of the other factor must be considered. 

How can this joint effect be understood? We assume that an indi- 
vidual interacts with his environment bv breaking it down and oreaniz- 
ing it into meaningful patterns congruent with his own needs and 
psychological make-up. As a result of this interchange, perceptual and 
behavioral constancies develop, which stem from the individual's 
standardized evaluative predilections toward differentiated aspects of 
his external world. We will refer to such evaluative tendencies as 
concepts. In serving as modes of relatedness or connecting ties between 
the individual and his environment, concepts thus provide the basis 
for understanding the joint effect of situational and dispositional 
factors. 

A concept is a system of ordering that serves as the mediating link- 
age between the input side (stimuli) and the output side (response). 
In operating as a system of ordering, a concept may be viewed as a 
categorical schema, an intervening medium, or program through which 
impinging stimuli are coded, passed, or evaluated on their way to 
response evocation. It is with the nature and development of these 
subject-object ties and with facets and effects of variations in the 
kinds of conceptual linkages between the individual and his world 
that this book is concerned. It is this bridge of relatedness between 
subject and object on which we focus rather than on either the subject 
or object per se. Many approaches have emphasized the variations in 
the subject (organismic variables such as age and intelligence) and 
variations in the nature of the objects to which the conceptual ties are 
anchored (for example, content areas such as the Republican partv, 
God, and Yale). In this book, however, we are concerned with how 
the individual relates to objects through modes of subject-object 
connectedness that are presumably independent of the content or 

1 



2 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

nature of the object. Assuming, therefore, that the structural properties 
of the ways the individual relates objects to himself are not contingent 
upon what is being related, we focus upon the variation in ways objects 
are conceived and upon differences in evaluative predispositons toward 
more or less common objects. 

The distinction between the present emphasis upon subject-object 
relatedness and the more traditional approaches emphasizing only the 
object of reference is similar to the difference between "anschauung" 
and "attitude," respectively, made by Klein: 

The term, Anschauung, is preferable to "attitude" because of the rather 
more narrow, well-worn connotations of the latter term in American psy- 
chologies, particularly in social psychology. Attitude usually implies a quite 
specific content and a direction toward or away from an object. In this 
common meaning it carries no implications of formal personality structure. 
But our use of it is precisely in the latter sense as a genotypic principle of 
control, having no ties to specific content, not necessarily related to partic- 
ular conflicts or stresses, and with counterparts in all forms of cognitive 
behavior (Klein, 1951, p. 332). 

Our study of concepts, like that of "anschauung," therefore will focus 
upon organizational properties that are not restricted to any particular 
referent object, but might be directed toward any object. As the above 
quotation suggests, a focus upon organizational or structural aspects 
is likely to render fairly insignificant certain traditional distinctions, 
such as that between attitude and value. On a similar basis our con- 
cern with specific behavioral manifestations will be only as indices of 
genotypic evaluative orientations to the world. Therefore, rather than 
emphasize content, for example, the object of an attitude or the level 
of achievement, we emphasize structural components of the con- 
ceptual system underlying evaluation and response to objects and the 
adaptive function that these conceptual linkages serve the organism. 

Let us consider the cases of an avid atheist and a zealous believer in 
God: in terms of many behavioral criteria or attitudinal classifications, 
these two persons might be viewed as opposites. This classification 
rests upon the phenotypic yardstick of directionality toward the refer- 
ent God. If they were considered according to the more genotypic 
aspects of their ways of relating to God, the atheist and the zealous 
believer might be seen as very similar to each other, more similar in 
fact than either would be to a person to whom the object, God, had 
little personal relevance. 

Once a concept develops, it serves as an experiential filter through 
which impinging events are screened, gauged, and evaluated, a 



OVERVIEW 



process that determines in large part what responses can and will 
occur. In this functional capacity, concepts are seen as providing a 
transforming mechanism similar to a judgmental baseline (Sherif and 
Cantril, 1947) or an adaptation level (Helson, 1947), through which 
reality is read. In serving as a means of evaluating events, concepts 
therefore define the positive or negative quality of an event, which in 
turn is assumed to determine the nature of affective arousal. 

Our concentration on concepts as the internal referents that provide 
the basis for relating to the environment leads to certain deliberate 
restrictions of this book. Omitted specifically, for example, is a detailed 
consideration of the operation of such internal factors as are embodied 
in the biogenic motives and other physiological processes. This is not 
to imply, of course, that these conceptual referent points that we treat 
are not themselves affected by physiological states and biological 
factors, as we indicate briefly. It is but to suggest that our focus is on 
the operation and effects of the more conceptual or symbolic of these 
internal standards. 

Concrete-Abstract Nature of Concepts 

The functional nature of a concept is assumed to be interdependently 
related to the structural characteristics of the subject-object ties. We 
assume that the most important structural characteristic is the degree 
of concreteness or abstractness. The more concrete, the more the 
structure is assumed to be restricted to, or dependent upon, physical 
attributes of the activating stimulus. 

In more concrete functioning, the mediating link between input 
and output is more fixed. Such an extreme dependence upon the 
physical stimulus is perhaps most clearly illustrated by an organism 
low on the phylogenetic scale for which the stimulus takes on a com- 
pelling pressure to make a particular response. Such a taxic response 
as that of the moth which "has no choice" but to fly toward a light 
epitomizes the effects of extremely concrete structure. At the human 
level, concrete functioning, even in extreme cases, rarely reaches this 
degree of complete dependence upon external stimulation. However, 
there is enormous variation along the concrete-abstract dimension at 
the human level, as the incidence of stereotyped thinking illustrates. 
We are concerned with such variation throughout this book and 
particularly with the conditions determining a person's attainment of 
a given level of abstractness. In addition, we focus upon "going beyond 
the information given," to use Bruner's phrase ( 1957 ) , and the implica- 



4 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

tions of such a differential ability in cognitive, affective, and behavioral 
consequences in situations that confirm or refute one's conceptual 
standards. 

Development of Concepts 

The factors determining the level of concreteness-abstractness 
reached by an individual are considered from a developmental view- 
point. We assume that development represents progression toward 
greater abstractness on the concrete-abstract dimension, which results 
in modification in the structural nature of the subject-object ties. We 
will not view development in such terms as the acquisition of motor 
behavior or as the acquisition of bowel or bladder control, as many 
others have done. 

The present view of development occurring along the abstractness- 
concreteness dimension assumes an increased availability of alternative 
concepts or schemata for coping with the same stimuli. Thus, as pro- 
gressive development occurs, the person orders the world more rela- 
tivistically and less stereotypically. In other words, he operates more 
in terms of multiple alternatives (within a more complex and dimen- 
sionalized space) rather than in terms of bifurcated black-white cate- 
gories. As the interconnecting ties to objects become less dependent 
upon physical properties of the object, the individual progresses from 
perceiving events as entirely externally caused to attributing a causal 
role to his own transactions with the environment. 

Learning: The Acquisition of Concepts 

In contrast to many other views, learning is seen in terms of the 
acquisition of concepts. Thus, "what is learned" are forms of related- 
ness, or subject-object ties. We assume that learning occurs through a 
process of differentiation and integration, during which time the 
person breaks down the environment into parts relevant to his current 
conceptual structure and then integrates these parts in ways com- 
patible with his current organization. We draw an important distinc- 
tion between the learning of concepts and learning as more tradi- 
tionally defined, that is, in terms of how closely the performance of the 
person matches some prescribed external standard of the training 
agent. This distinction is illustrated by Lewin's comments on "achieve- 
ment concepts" as follows: 

The use of achievement concepts is one of the essential obstacles in the 
way of discovering the concretely existing Gestalt relations. Not that the 



OVERVIEW o 

task is to subsume everything in any remotely possible relationship, but 
rather to establish whether and where actual Gestalt relations do or do not 
exist in a given case. 

Let us take a training process, for example, the learning of typewriting. 
The learning curve rises at first quite steeply to level off later on. In time, 
a more or less jump-like transition from that level to a higher level takes 
place, and so forth. The achievement concept "typewriting" lumps all these 
processes together, as if they were a single action (Lewin, 1951, pp. 89-90). 

If the word "concept" is substituted for "Gestalt relation" in the 
above quotation, then the distinction is relevant to the present position. 

A person may learn to make a particular overt response demanded 
by the training agent without substantially modifying any of the 
structural features of his concepts. To use the case of the zealot again: 
he might, in response to effective propaganda or other methods of 
persuasion, shift from an "anti" position to an equally committed "pro" 
position toward the same object and in so doing not modify at all 
the structural properties of his ties to the object. Thus considering only 
the occurrence of specific responses as indicating learning may prevent 
understanding the genotypic reorganization, if any, which may parallel 
such overt change. It should be made clear at this point that we are 
not disavowing interest in behavior, for it is only through behavior 
that we can understand the process of conceptual functioning. Also, 
we are not trying to disclaim the importance of content of concepts, 
for it is obvious that the directionality of response tendencies toward 
an object, whether approach or avoidant, has social and personal 
significance. We only are maintaining that the relation between be- 
havior and concept is very complex in that the same behavioral 
response may be associated with two or more quite different con- 
ceptual structures, and similarly that the same conceptual structure 
may be associated with quite different behavioral responses. One im- 
plication of this is that a single response cannot provide a valid index 
of the structural qualities of directing conceptual schemata. Hence 
multiple measures, which provide at least two points in space and 
time, are necessary for "mapping" or accurately inferring the con- 
ceptual structure assumed to underlie any and all responses. 

If learning is viewed in terms of the acquisition of concepts, then 
what is learned by the person who is the object of training may differ 
radically from the explicit goals of the training agent. In other words, 
since the goal of the training agent is usually to change overt responses, 
he is unlikely to be aware of what forms of subject-object relatedness 
he is "also" teaching. For example, the dominating parent, intent upon 
forcing a child to be polite, will likely not be aware of the fact that 
what the child is "really learning" is not simply an obedient response, 



b CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

but rather that interpersonal relations or subject-object relatedness 
occurs in terms of dominant-submissive relationships. If the training 
agent were less concerned with the what, or teaching a specific re- 
sponse, and more concerned with the how of the relatedness being 
established, then such disparity between the explicit goals of the 
training agent and what is learned by the object of training would not 
be so great. 

Concepts, Conceptual Systems, and the Self 

We assume that the characteristics associated with a single concept 
may also be applied to groups of concepts. Let us imagine a dimension 
with a single concept at one extreme and the totality of a person's 
concepts at the other extreme. For particular purposes we may choose 
a unit of analysis at any point on this dimension. At the most specific 
extreme the unit would be the concept, and at the most general ex- 
treme the unit would be the self-system, with in-between areas repre- 
senting conceptual systems. In reality, the dimension of unit specificity 
is hypothetical because a single concept probably never functions 
completely independently. We maintain that in order to understand 
a concept, one should place it in relation to as many independent 
dimensions, for example, the concrete-abstract dimension, as possible 
rather than employing the more traditional separation of concepts into 
attitudes, values, and so forth. In keeping with the present generic 
approach, therefore, we use the same structural dimensions to refer to 
all concepts, whether in describing pathological conceptual function- 
ing (resulting from real life stress) or referring to the more normal 
functioning (elicited by less stressful laboratory manipulations as in 
conflict resolution ) . 

From the present viewpoint, the development and functioning of 
a concept is assumed to be inseparable from the development and 
functioning of the self. We define the self as the intertwined totality 
of one's concepts; furthermore, it is in terms of such a conceptual matrix 
that one defines his existence in space and time. Although the directing 
and regulating function of the self has been described by many others, 
the following statement by Murphy is particularly relevant: 

Indeed, the self-picture has all the strength of other perceptual stereo- 
types and in addition serves as the chart by which the individual navigates. 
If it is lost, he can make only impulsive runs in fair weather; the ship drifts 
helplessly whenever storms arise (Murphy, 1947, p. 715). 

When a single concept is viewed as a part of a larger conceptual 
organization, the self, it becomes apparent that not all of one's concepts 



OVERVIEW 7 

necessarily have the same structural characteristics. Owing to the 
diversity of developmental conditions experienced in initially estab- 
lishing these linkages, it is common to find individuals whose con- 
ceptual ties to certain objects (for example, religion) are more con- 
crete, and to other objects (for example, science) are quite abstract. 
Thus when we speak of modes of conceptual functioning we do so in 
relation to certain specific areas without assuming that the same 
organizational tendencies would apply in all other areas of functioning. 
Although the extent of generality of structural aspects across one's 
total conceptual system remains empirical, it seems likely that some 
individuals will tend to be quite consistent in many areas whereas 
others will manifest much more diversity. 

Conceptual Confirmation and Refutation 

Confirmation and refutation of concepts are, respectively, the evalua- 
tion of a situation as being either in line with or contradictory to the 
directional or volitional striving ( either approach or avoidant ) toward 
the object of the concept. The experience of confirmation or refutation 
depends in part upon structural characteristics, such as the centrality 
and interrelatedness, of the concepts concerned. However, in general, 
confirmation results in the experience of positive affect with accom- 
panying approach tendencies toward the perceived agent of confirma- 
tion. Conversely, refutation results generally in the experience of 
negative affect with accompanying avoidant tendencies toward the 
perceived agent of refutation. 

Confirmation and refutation rarely occur in relation to a single con- 
cept. More likely is the involvement of several concepts so that si- 
multaneous confirmation and refutation occur, producing conflict and 
vacillation. Faced by such circumstances, the person is assumed to at- 
tempt to resolve the conflict in a way that will maximize positive affect. 
If the conflict involves concepts of varying centrality, he may neutralize 
or modify the less central concept. If the conflict involves two or more 
highly central concepts, however, then the individual may resort to 
a more pathological resolution, which in the extreme instances may 
take the form of amnesia or other dissociative or disintegrative phe- 
nomena. 

Much of this book is devoted to various maneuvers that function to 
neutralize or transform potentially refuting events into experiences that 
leave the self minimally threatened and maximally unaltered. Main- 
tenance of concepts is maintenance of self. Severance of all conceptual 
linkages between the subject and objects to which one is related would 



8 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

constitute a destruction of the self, an obliteration of the spatial and 
temporal anchorages on which one's definition of his existence depends. 
Not only is man's psychological being dependent upon such stabilizing 
conceptual linkages to the world, but also in very extreme cases is his 
physiological being. 

Aim and Plan of the Book 

The aim of the present book is to consider a rather broad set of 
problem areas from the same. theoretical viewpoint. To the reader who 
wonders what the book is about we may note that we deal with a 
number of seemingly diverse problem areas such as child development, 
attitude change, personality measurement, motivational principles, 
and psychopathologv. However, these traditional problem areas do 
not actually convey what the book is about because we are not directly 
concerned with any one of these areas as such. Rather we are con- 
cerned with the possibility of applying a common set of principles and 
constructs to these various problem areas. The common thread, which 
we attempt to weave through these diverse areas, is that of concepts 
or conceptual systems. Perhaps a more accurate way of stating what 
the book is about would be to say that we are interested in how an 
individual learns to adapt to his interpersonal environment, how such 
a pattern of adaptation affects his reaction to contemporaneous events, 
and how such patterns of conceptual organization may be modified. 

We share the puzzlement of the student in introductory psychology, 
whether it be the bewildered freshman or the only slightly less con- 
fused sophomore, as to why there should be such a lack of continuity 
and consistency in the chapters of an introductory textbook in psy- 
chology. Most such books have highly compartmentalized chapters 
with almost no integrating constructs or theoretical principles. We be- 
lieve that such changing constructs and terminology for each of the 
several content areas are not only unnecessary but also unwise since 
they prevent furthering our understanding about one area through 
knowledge in another. Therefore, we believe that attempting to view 
various problem areas with the same constructs may provide a basis 
for some theoretical rapprochement that extends beyond mere analogy. 
A similar view was expressed by Lawrence Frank (1960) when he 
urged the use of new concepts and methods in attempting to under- 
stand the process of development: 

. . . our problem becomes that of discovering how the organism-personality 
persists while changing, maintains a dynamic stability, with self-correcting 
and self-repairing processes and the capacity to transform organic functions 



OVERVIEW 



and behavior into the patterned physiological activities and the symbolic 
behavior required for living in a symbolic cultural world and participating 
in a social order (Frank, 1960, p. 189). 

In the chapters to follow, therefore, the reader encounters the fol- 
lowing kinds of treatment: motivational principles viewed in terms of 
conceptual refutation and confirmation; child development viewed in 
terms of the progressive development of concepts; personality or- 
ganization viewed in terms of conceptual system structure; personality 
measurement viewed in terms of assessing the most prevalent pattern 
of conceptual system functioning; attitude change viewed in terms of 
resolutions emanating from conceptual functioning; psychopathological 
reactions viewed in terms of extreme resolutions associated with the 
functioning of conceptual systems; and psychotherapy and education 
viewed in terms of modification of conceptual system organization. 
We attempt to apply a consistent viewpoint to all of these areas with- 
out expecting to provide any final answers. 

At a practical level it is hoped such a homogeneous approach will 
open the possibility for bringing together areas such as diagnosis and 
therapy, in which at present the assessment has little or no relation to 
the therapeutic intervention. However, more realistically, the present 
work is largely an attempt to focus upon the inconsistencies or gaps 
that occur when the viewpoint is applied, thus highlighting areas 
where research is needed or where conceptual reformulation is re- 
quired. It is in this sense of raising such problems and pointing out 
research possibilities that we submit this book to the reader. Very 
apropos to the intent of this book is the comment of Hoffer concerning 
his own work: 

The reader is expected to quarrel with much that is said in this . . . 
book. He is likely to feel that much has been exaggerated and much ig- 
nored. But this is not an authoritative textbook. It is a book of thoughts, 
and it does not shy away from half-truths so long as they seem to hint at 
a new approach and help to formulate new questions. "To illustrate a 
principle," says Bagehot, "you must exaggerate much and you must omit 
much" (Hoffer, 1951, p. 59). 



Nature of Concepts 



That the same external event may be evaluated differently by differ- 
ent persons no doubt is a timeless truism. As a phenomenon receiving 
experimental attention, it goes back at least to around 1820 to the work 
of the astronomer Bessel who termed it the "personal equation" after 
his recognition of the scientific implications of the fact that even repu- 
table astronomers tended to differ in their time observations of the 
stellar transits (Heidbreder, 1933; Murphy, 1949; Boring, 1950). In- 
terest of psychology in this problem was given impetus by the advent 
of the theory of evolution and especially by the work of Galton (Gal- 
ton, 1883). ' 

Once having entered the stream of psychology, the operation of 
individual differences in almost all functioning became one of psy- 
chology's most basic dogmas and pervasive assumptions. Contributing 
heavily to the experimental documentation of this tenet has been the 
wealth of research on the effects of motivational factors on cognition 
during the last three decades, research that stemmed from the as- 
sumption that perception and other cognitive processes are bipolarly 
determined (Kohler, 1929), that is, are jointly determined by external 
and internal factors operating interdependently (Sherif, 1935). 

Among the most influential of the multiplicity of internal or disposi- 
tional factors in determining any cognitive outcome are the stored, 
organized effects of past experience that we have labeled concepts. It 
is with these internal determinants of behavior, especially as they relate 
to the evaluation of and response to certain interpersonal stimuli, that 
this book is largely concerned. 

Some General Characteristics of Concepts 

A concept in the most general sense is a schema for evaluating im- 
pinging stimulus objects or events. Abstracted from the experience of 
objects in the environing world, it represents a category of varying 
definitiveness and breadth along some specifiable dimension ( hot-cold, 
good-bad, and so forth) (Harvey and Rutherford, 1958). Once a con- 
cept has evolved, it serves as a psychological yardstick in terms of 

10 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 11 

which stimuli are compared and gauged, a kind of experiential filter 
through which objects are screened and evaluated on their way from 
sensory reception to ultimate response evocation. 

Concepts, in their matrix of interrelatedness, serve the critical cog- 
nitive function of providing a system of ordering by means of which 
the environment is broken down and organized, is differentiated and 
integrated, into its many psychologically relevant facets. In this capacity, 
they provide the medium through which the individual establishes and 
maintains ties with the surrounding world. It is on the basis of the web 
of these conceptual ties that one is able to place oneself stably and 
meaningfully in relation to time, space, and other objects and dimen- 
sions of his psychological universe. It is on this basis, hence, that one's 
self-identity and existence are articulated and maintained. Threat to 
such ties or severance of them leads to a psychological mobilization 
aimed at maintaining or restoring them, efforts, which if unsuccessful 
may result in a major reorientation and organization of ties to the 
world, or more drastically, even to breakdown or destruction of the self. 

Our emphasis upon this adaptive function of concepts certainly is 
not new nor unique. It is closely akin at the theoretical level to two 
major schools of thought: to the evolutionary functionalists, with their 
emphasis on motivation and adaptation of the organism to the environ- 
ment; and to the Gestalters, with their emphasis on the organizational 
and cognitive determinants of behavior. More recently Kelly has stated 
a position that clearly stresses the adaptive importance of concepts 
( "constructs" as he terms them ) : 

Man looks at his world through transparent patterns or templets which 
he creates and then attempts to fit over the realities of which the world is 
composed. The fit is not always very good. Yet without such patterns the 
world appears to be such an undifferentiated homogeneity that man is un- 
able to make any sense out of it. Even a poor fit is more helpful to him than 
nothing at all. 

Let us give the name "constructs" to these patterns that are tentatively 
tried on for size. They are ways of construing the world. They are what 
enables man, and lower animals too, to chart a course of behavior, ex- 
plicitly formulated or implicity acted out, verbally expressed or utterly 
inarticulate, consistent with other courses of behavior or inconsistent with 
them, intellectually reasoned or vegetatively sensed (Kelly, 1955, pp. 8—9). 

That cognitive activity cannot be considered independently of 
motivational factors, and vice versa, has been demonstrated amply 
during the last twenty years, especially in the work of the not-now- 
so-new "New Lookers." The importance of the individual's conceptual 
linkage with his environment to his very existence, however, is only 
now being recognized, owing largely to the dramatic effects of com- 



12 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

munist "brainwashing" and research resulting from this and other 
international problems, such as space travel, which has given rise to 
increased investigation of the effects of isolation and "sensory depriva- 
tion." Paralleling this concern with effects of subject-object severance 
is a return of sociologists to the kindred problems of anomie and 
alienation, first emphasized by Durkheim (1897) and treated more 
recently by others (Merton, 1949; Srole, 1956; Nettler, 1957; Powell, 
1958). 

Concepts Epitomize Relativity 

The simplest concept is the placement of two points into a relation- 
ship that will permit a judgment of "equal," "different," or "similar." 
This simplest kind of inference Stern refers to as "transduction," "the 
transition from one concrete, isolated judgment to another coordinate, 
single judgment," in contrast to induction and deduction, which in- 
volve making more generalized and abstract judgments (Werner, 
1957, p. 327). One of the two points is always some internal standard 
or referent of the receiver, and the evaluation of the second point or 
event is always contingent upon its interdependence with this stand- 
ard. After a concept has evolved, it enters into the matrix of other 
internal standards — which first are more biogenic but later are more 
conceptual — where it serves as the referent for the experiencing of 
related objects or events. As the conceptual referent is altered, so is 
the evaluation or judgment of the impinging stimulus — both while 
the stimulus is present (generally called perception) and during its 
absence (generally labeled memory). 

It probably is not too far afield to suggest that no event has psycho- 
logical relevance to an individual or exists for him until he has in some 
way related it to an existing internal standard(s). This implies that the 
behavioral relevance of an object "out there" is dependent on the way 
it is differentiated from the booming, buzzing environment and func- 
tionally compared, consciously or unconsciously, to key internal refer- 
ents operative at the moment. One consequence of this is that although 
relationships can be and are formed between two or more external 
objects the linkage is not directly between these objects. Instead, the 
relationship between them stems from and is mediated through their 
mutual dependence on a common internal referent that links these 
objects on some dimension, rendering them as similar or dissimilar. 
The simple judgments of two weights as "lighter," "heavier," or 
"equal," for example, means that both of these objects have been 
compared implicitly to the common conceptual standard of heaviness 
and that their relationship to each other is a function of the relation- 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 13 

ship of each to this common evaluative yardstick. A person reared in 
a hypothetical environment where gravitational pulls had been kept 
at zero, for instance, could not differentiate between the two objects 
in terms of their heaviness. He might, however, be able to make some 
comparative judgment along other dimensions. 

Not only does an object have no psychological value until it is 
compared to a conceptual referent, but also the reciprocal is true. A 
concept operates only in the presence of objects that are relevant to it. 
Remove the object — a task more difficult as the abstraction ladder is 
ascended because of conceptual extensions of the present into the 
past and future — and the concept lies dormant until another relevant 
object appears. 

Thus the dependence of object and concept on each other is re- 
ciprocal. This may be analogous to the triggering effects of "releasers" 
(Tinbergen, 1951) or of "sign qualities" (Werner, 1957) in eliciting 
instinctual response tendencies or undifferentiated relationships be- 
tween object and motive in the lower level species or — for Werner — 
in concrete human functioning. Considering that one of the character- 
istics of a concept is a readiness to respond to an object and that the 
concept lies in disuse until the object is presented, this may be more 
than analogous. This interdependence may actually be akin to the 
triggering effects of releasers and signal qualities, with the exception 
— and an important exception it is — that at the lower phylogenetic 
and more concrete levels the response elicited by a stimulus property 
is much more invariant. We are nevertheless now certain, for example, 
that the old controversy of heredity versus environment is meaningless 
unless these two factors are considered in interdependence; that what- 
ever the characteristic or potential is in one, its fruition depends on a 
triggering off by the environment and a reciprocal state of readiness 
within the organism. 

This view of the interdependence of object and concept approaches 
in one important way the epistemological stand of Aristotle and 
Anaxagoras (Heidbreder, 1933), as well as that of such functionalists 
as Spencer (1897), James (1890), and Dewey (1896), who emphasized 
relationships as the irreducible elements of reality. A relationship 
necessitates the existence of at least two points before anything can 
be related. Hence a single point, A, could have no existence — for us 
at least, no psychological relevance — until it existed in conjunction 
with at least a second point, B. Both A and B after being registered 
by the organism must be brought into reciprocal relevance by the 
mediating activity of a common internal referent ( C ) before a relation- 
ship between them can be said to exist. 



14 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Today instead of examining the Aristotelian question of form versus 
matter (to which we shall return later) we are more likely, when we 
discuss the problem at all, to pose the question as genotype versus 
phenotype (Lewin, 1935). Whatever the language, the important 
point is that no "fact" speaks for itself. No event has psychological 
relevance apart from the internal standard to which it is related. The 
"nature" of the fact or event is dependent on its relationship to a 
second, a third, an nth "fact" or event, as these are interlinked by a 
common internal yardstick. As Whitehead ( 1938 ) avers : 

... A single fact in isolation is the primary myth required for finite 
thought, that is to say, for thought unable to embrace totality. 

This mythological character arises because there is no such fact. Con- 
nectedness is of the essence of all things of all types. It is of the essence of 
all types, that they be connected. Abstraction from connectedness involves 
the omission of an essential factor in the fact considered. No fact is merely 
itself. The penetration of literature and art at their height arises from our 
dumb sense that we have passed beyond mythology; namely, beyond the 
myth of isolation (pp. 12-13). 

Even more directly relevant perhaps is the comment by Spencer: 

For that which distinguishes Psychology from the sciences on which it 
rests, is that each of its propositions takes account both of the connected 
internal phenomena and of the connected external phenomena to which 
they refer. In a physiological proposition an inner relation is the essential 
subject of thought; but in a psychological proposition an outer relation is 
joined with it as a co-essential subject of thought. A relation in the environ- 
ment rises into co-ordinate importance with a relation in the organism. The 
thing contemplated is now a totally different thing. It is not the connection 
between the internal phenomena, nor is it the connection between the ex- 
ternal phenomena; but it is the connection between these two connections. 
A psychological proposition is necessarily compounded of two propositions, 
of which one concerns the subject and the other concerns the object; and 
cannot be expressed without the four terms which these two propositions 
imply (Spencer, 1897, Vol. I, p. 132). 

The reader should keep sharply focused on the fact that it is with 
the relationship or connection between the subject and object, a 
relationship we term "concept," and not on the object or subject in 
independence of the other that this book is concerned. 

Relationship of Concepts to 
Other Cognitive Outcomes 

In the history of psychology attempts have been made to differentiate 
sharply between such terms as percept, concept, judgment, and 
memory. Without any expectation of quieting this argument with one 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 15 

brief pass, it does seem appropriate, however, to suggest that the 
dependence on at least two points in space and time is as essential 
for other of the so-called cognitive processes as it is for concept forma- 
tion and functioning. Perception, judgment, and any other of the 
varieties of discrimination are essentially acts of evaluation, of compar- 
ing two or more objects or points on some common dimension(s) that 
are embodied as integral facets in existing internal standards. Thinking 
and problem solving in general may also be seen as similar processes 
that represent the postulation, either explicitly or implicitly, of a re- 
lationship between two or more objects that is accompanied by some 
type of behavior, either overt or covert, aimed at testing the validity 
of the hypothesized relationship. Memory, moreover, is the endurance 
or change of this postulation across time as it is affected by the input 
of intervening sensory events through both intero- and exteroceptors. 
The intervening events may operate to reinforce, to make more distinct 
the hypothesized relationship by their being perceived as congruent 
with the postulation. Or these events may serve to render the postu- 
lated relationship more diffuse and uncertain owing to the failure of 
the events to be perceived in accord with it. A modification of the 
underlying or referent concept results in a necessary change in the 
nature of the experience of those events — in the presence of those 
events ( perception ) or in their absence across time ( memory ) . 



Concepts Are Products of Both 
External and Internal Factors 

Stimulus and Motivational Factors 
Operate Interdepend ently 

The development and functioning of concepts, like all other cognitive 
outcomes, are bipolarly determined (Kohler, 1929; Lewin, 1935; 
Sherif, 1935; Piaget, 1951 ) ; that is, concepts are jointly determined by 
the totality of external (situational) and internal (dispositional) factors 
at the given time operating in mutual interdependence. This is not to 
say that both sets of these cognitive determinants exercise equal 
weight in the final outcome. The influence exerted by each is a 
function of the compellingness of the external or stimulus factors and 
the intensity of the internal or motivational factors ( Sherif, 1935; Coffin, 
1941; Sherif and Harvey, 1952; Thrasher, 1954). The less compelling, 
or the more ambiguous the stimulus variables, the greater the influence 
of the motivational state in the cognitive outcome. Similarly, the more 
intense the motive arousal the greater its weight in the consequent 



16 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

psychological organization. The condition under which motives are 
maximally influential, then, is high stimulus ambiguity and high moti- 
vational arousal. Conversely, motivational influence in concept func- 
tioning is minimal and stimulus determinants are maximal under 
conditions of high stimulus structure and low motive arousal. 

Thus as one cannot speak of point A in isolation of point B or C or 
N, one cannot speak accurately of the weight of either external or 
internal factors in the conceptual outcome unless the contemporaneous 
condition or state of the other factors is simultaneously specified. 

Concepts Both Structure the Environment 
and Are Structured by It 

Once a concept or matrix of concepts has evolved, it serves as a 
system of ordering through which the external world is filtered, 
evaluated, and responded to. At the same time, however, the very 
impingement of external stimuli exercises a feedback effect on the 
concept, either toward reinforcing or modifying it. Thus a concept 
influences and is reciprocally influenced by the environmental impinge- 
ment. Piaget ( 1951 ) describes the evolution of the structure of thought 
— which is almost identical to our characterization of concepts — in the 
same way. Thought, according to Piaget ( and concept for us ) , is the 
outcome of the reciprocal effects of "assimilation" and "accommoda- 
tion," by which he means respectively the incorporation of exter- 
nal factors into the existing conceptual framework and the mod- 
ification of the framework as a result of environmental impingement. 
". . . These two aspects of thought are inseparable: thought organizes 
itself in adapting to objects, and thought structures objects in organiz- 
ing itself" (Piaget, 1951, p. 186). 

The evolvement and functioning of concepts must then be viewed 
in terms of some type of feedback model in which they serve as both 
cause and effect — or as independent and dependent variables if one 
wishes to choose this language — of themselves and other cognitive 
outcomes. Concepts serve as "cause" in the sense that, once they have 
evolved, they exercise a channeling or molding effect on subsequent 
concepts and experience. They are "effect" in the sense that they 
themselves represent the outgrowth of antecedent and often extremely 
rudimentary systems of ordering, systems which may have been no 
more than simple sets and other cognitively selecting predispositions 
that resulted from biogenic needs and physiological states. (It is these 
sets and phvsiological selectivities that initially channel impinging 
stimuli into some consistent psychological structure or system of order- 
ing.) 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 17 

The mutual dependence of environmental and conceptual factors 
in determining concepts and other cognitive outcomes implies that 
each stimulus impingement and its evaluation produces some modifica- 
tion, albeit infinitesimal, in the conceptual referent. A hypothetical 
consequence of this is ". . . that no state once gone can recur and be 
identical with what it was before" (James, 1890, Vol. I, p. 230). Even 
though the objective characteristics of the impinging object or event 
may remain constant, each subsequent experience of the object must 
be different because its preceding exposure modified the conceptual 
standard in terms of which it was being gauged. 

Thus as James suggested, 

. . . Often we are ourselves struck at the strange differences in our 
successive views of the same thing. We wonder how we ever could have 
opined as we did last month about a certain matter. . . . From one year to 
another we see things in new lights. What was unreal has grown real, and 
what was exciting is insipid. The friends we used to care the world for are 
shrunken to shadows; the women, once so divine, the stars, the woods, and 
the waters, how now, so dull and common; the young girls that brought 
an aura of infinity, at present hardly distinguishable existences; the pictures 
so empty; and as for the books, what was there to find so mysteriously 
significant in Goethe, or in John Mill so full of weight? 

But what here strikes us so forcibly on the flagrant scale exists on everv 
scale, down to the imperceptible transition from one hour's outlook to that 
of the next. Experience is remoulding us every moment, and our mental 
reaction on every given thing is really a resultant of our experience of the 
whole world up to that date (James, 1890, Vol. I, pp. 233-234). 

The change in conceptual referents that underlie the change in 
evaluation and experience of the same objects need not be only in the 
direction suggested by James, that is, toward conceptual satiation and 
extinction of the accompanying response tendency. Instead of weaken- 
ing the underlying concept, one may mold reality into it in such a way 
as to reinforce and strengthen the conceptual metering system. This 
latter possibility seems to receive striking confirmation, for example, 
in the persistence of social stereotypes. Functioning in terms of prac- 
tically closed concepts, the highly prejudiced individual tends to fit 
his perception of the object or prejudice into the confines and dimen- 
sions of the gauging concepts in such a way that the concept is rein- 
forced, or at least not appreciably weakened. 

Concepts Develop through the Process of 
Differentiation-Integration 

Whereas concepts represent the joint product of the interdependent 
operation of situational and dispositional factors, the "equilibrium 



18 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

between assimilation and accommodation" — to use Piaget's phrase — 
the psychological process through which this interaction finds ex- 
pression is that of differentiation-integration. 

Differentiation refers to the breaking of a novel, more undifferen- 
tiated, situation into more clearly defined and articulated parts. 
Integration is the relating or hooking of such parts to each other and 
to previous conceptual standards. 

Differentiation-Integration 
Proceeds Saccadically 

In spearheading the development of concepts, differentiation and 
integration do not proceed at a steady linear rate. Instead this process, 
much like visual scanning, seems to move saccadically ( Carmichael and 
Dearborn, 1948 ) . "The eyes when they scan the lines of a printed page, 
or in fact any scene, do so in a series of extremely rapid jerks ( called 
saccades) between points of comparative rest (fixation pauses) at which 
they take in information" (Cherry, 1957, pp. 122-123). Conceptually, the 
saccades seem to operate much like "bracketing," to borrow a term from 
artillery, in which defined referent points, sensory or more conceptual, 
are placed around the extreme limits of the target or phenomenon. With 
these end points at the extremes serving as anchorages from which to 
radiate, the subject begins to make finer differentiations in between 
these defining limits. In conceptual development, one seems first to 
form gross differentiations by cognitively cutting the ambiguous or un- 
differentiated into large chunks. This larger chunk one might differen- 
tiate more before moving to break off another chunk, but generally 
one moves to the cutting of a second chunk before finely and clearly 
differentiating the first. In fact, it seems in most cases that it is with 
the aid of differentiations and referent points gained from the latter 
gross segment that one is able to differentiate more finely — and even 
veridically — the facets of the first chunk. 

Underlying our hypothesis that concepts develop saccadically is 
the further assumption that the end points or poles of a concept 
operate as a kind of opposites, exercising a force or an energy that 
results in a conceptual outcome that parallels cell mitosis, in which the 
grosser parts are divided into more articulated and numerous ones. 
Were a force of some nature not brought to bear on a phenomenon, 
if that phenomenon existed only in a cocooned vacuum, then pre- 
sumably no modification of it, growth or otherwise, could occur. Hence 
for a grossly differentiated concept to attain a state of greater differ- 
entiation and refinement we assume that its two poles must exert 
contradictory pulls sufficiently strong to produce evaluative alternatives 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 19 

other than the either-or categories characterizing the earlier stage. The 
concept, "good," for example, is non-existent without the opposite pole 
"bad," in conjunction with which it came into being. Engagement of 
the concept in its less differentiated form could lead only to a bifur- 
cated evaluation: the object is all good or all bad. With further delinea- 
tion into multiple facets through the reciprocal pull of the good-bad 
poles the engagement of the concept leads to more specific evaluations 
of gradations from good to bad. Later, in discussing the structural 
properties of concepts, we shall by elaborating the above position show 
how love and hate, religious zeal and atheism, for example, are more 
similar to each other than either is to an intermediate position of 
neutrality or to a position that allows for multiple evaluation. 

This position is very reminiscent of the basic premise of Hegel's 
Logic: Every truth, every reality has three aspects or stages. The first 
is a preliminary or tentative affirmation (thesis), which more or less 
can be equated with gross differentiation; the second is a negative of 
the thesis ( antithesis ) , which results in finer differentiations as a result 
of opposite pulls from the two; and the third is an integration of the 
more finely articulated parts ( synthesis ) . 

Without subscribing to his epistemology or to his postulation of a 
necessary end, we assume that phases much akin to those described by 
Hegel occur in most forms of development in the process of trying to 
adapt to or make sense out of any novel and relevant situation: in 
childhood development and socialization, in learning a new role or 
important skill, or in any structuring of an ambiguous and ego-involv- 
ing situation. 

Some Historical Notions of Stages and 
Phases of Differentiation-Integration 

The question of stages is an ancient one, going back at least to 
Aristotle. It was reworked by representatives of the church during the 
Middle Ages and burst into full bloom in conjunction with the advent 
of theory of evolution. 

A central theme running through the various notions of sequential 
stages has been, in one variety or another, that it is one of the general 
laws of nature that the simple tends to evolve into and become an 
inseparable part of a more complex, more comprehensive totality. This 
was one of the most essential assumptions underlying Aristotle's argu- 
ment for relativity and final causality (Aristotle, translated by Ham- 
mond, 1902). All things but one — God — can be considered as either 
form or matter, according to Aristotle, depending on the objects or 
phenomena being compared and the level of the comparison. Matter 



20 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

was the simpler, lower level unit, whereas form was the more complex, 
higher level order that encompassed matter of the antecedent level. 
Marble, for example, was matter for the pillar of the building, and the 
pillar, in turn, was form for the marble. The same pillar (a subpart), 
on the other hand, was matter to the building ( a larger totality ) . From 
here the progression of simpler into the more comprehensive, of the 
inclusion of matter into a next higher form, continued until the 
ultimate of progression, God — who was form to all and matter to 
nothing — was attained. In a large sense, Aristotle viewed the universe 
and the development of causality as a closed system. God was the end 
toward which all things moved in their development. This was the 
telelogical goal or force that made all paths point toward it. 

The essential feature of Aristotle's argument was later elaborated 
and popularized by Thomas Aquinas in such a way that the Church 
dogma and science of the day were well enough reconciled so that 
St. Thomas' arguments were accepted by both— especially by the 
Church. 

Notions of stages and inevitable progression of subparts or elements 
into larger structures found its way into physics, into chemistry, and 
later as crucial features of the theory of evolution. These notions 
emerged in their fullest strength among geologists, biologists, and 
social scientists. The period preceding the advent of Darwin's theory, 
however, saw the emergence of several notions on evolution. Goethe, 
in his study of botany, for example, worked out a theory of evolution. 
The French philosopher Fourier had built a theory of human destiny 
in terms of stages involving thousands of years, and Hegel had worked 
out the notion that civilization had gone through various stages of 
development in keeping with the universal Idea (Murphy, 1949). 

In the scientific thought of the period two types of evolutionary teaching 
went on side by side: first, the theory of the evolution of the inanimate 
physical universe, the study of inorganic evolution; second, the study of 
biological or organic evolution. Laplace developed in connection with his 
mechanics the theory commonly known as the nebular hypothesis. ... In 
geology, Lyell was making investigations from 1830 to 1860 to show how 
rock strata were formed by a series of changes in the earth . . . Lyell 
enunciated the theory that the earth itself had gone through an orderly 
series of changes, in which a chaos of elements had gradually been super- 
seded by differentiation and separation. . . . He had undertaken to show 
that the earth itself reveals stages requiring vastly greater time than the six 
days allowed in the Book of Genesis. As a matter of fact, Lyell was not the 
first nor the last, but in terms of scientific as well as popular influence he was 
by far the greatest, of the geological evolutionists. He prepared the way 
for the habit of thinking of growth in terms of changes in living organisms. 
Lyell's evolutionism was, indeed, a direct stimulus to the work of Charles 
Darwin (Murphy, 1949, pp. 111-112). 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 21 

Many anthropologists, such as Morgan and Tyler, applied modified 
versions of evolutionary doctrine to the genesis and development of 
culture (Lowie, 1937). In fact such a notion was basic to the "dif- 
fusionists," those theorists who held that all cultures must have evolved, 
as had all biological species, from a single, common origin. 

Spencer (1897) articulated the belief of sequential development into 
dimensions more directly relevant to psychology and brought them 
to bear on his survivalistic, functionalistic notions on the subject. Cen- 
tral to his theory of "evolutionary associationism" was the assumption 
that relationships, ideas, and other simpler and more complex cognitive 
events follow an ordered pattern in their development. Spencer main- 
tained that from the unrelated, undifferentiated, psychologicallv ir- 
relevant mass of impinging stimuli, from the booming, buzzing con- 
fusion to which James later applied notions of stages in cognitive 
development, the individual differentiates out facts relevant to his 
survival and subsequently integrates them into some type of associa- 
tion functional to his existence. Through this process, development 
progresses from the simple to the more complex. Differentiation gives 
rise to a more complex integration. 

The belief that the organism in both its biological and conceptual 
development advances through stages, from the simpler to the more 
complex or from the more undifferentiated and concrete to the more 
highly integrated and abstract, occupies a central position in some of 
the best known works of psychology and biologv: in Murphy's treat- 
ment of personality ( 1947 ) ; in Piaget's many writings on the develop- 
mental facets of behavior (1926, 1929, 1932, 1954); in Werner's com- 
parative psychology of conceptual development ( 1957 ) ; and in Weiss' 
approach to biological structure and maturation (1939). One of the 
best known experiments in psvchologv is that of Carmichael ( 1926, 
1927), showing the importance of differentiation and integration of 
maturational factors in levels of learning and motor attainment. 

If indeed a concept is a schema or category for the placement of 
events and objects in relationship to existing internal referents in order 
that they may be experienced and evaluated, as we suggested earlier, 
then a concept could not exist until the unstructured environment is 
broken down and patterned. It becomes our assumption accordingly, 
much as it was of the above writers, that concepts and other cognitive 
outcomes develop in the order suggested by Spencer: from undiffer- 
entiation to differentiation to integration. We desire, however, to dis- 
avow for three general reasons the often implied necessity that differ- 
entiation-integration must pass through definite stages and toward 
invariant ends: 

1, Differentiation-integration, as we view it, does not itself follow 



22 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

necessary stages. Instead it is a process, as we have already indicated, 
by means of which the organism breaks his environing world down 
into parts and relates them in a way relevant to his motive system and 
existence. Differentiation does not necessitate integration; a discrim- 
inated aspect of a stimulus can be left in isolation and not related to 
others, for example, as in extremely concrete organization. The attain- 
ment of a more abstract level of functioning, as we shall suggest shortly, 
does, on the other hand, follow stages. It must have been preceded by 
differentiation and integration on a more concrete level. One does not 
get to a high level of abstraction without having gone through lower 
levels. 

2. As a result of the fact that differentiation may occur in an isolated 
and compartmentalized way without integration, differentiation does 
not necessarily give rise to a more complex organization or cognitive 
structure. Increased complexity can only result from placement of the 
articulated parts in interrelatedness. 

3. Differentiation and integration need not be separated by time 
spans. It seems to be a general, although implicit, assumption of some 
writers that differentiation and integration are separated by a temporal 
lapse. The assumption rests on logical grounds, since integration must 
be preceded by differentiation. However, it is also empirically plausible 
that differentiation and integration may occur simultaneously. Indeed 
any differentiation has in it an element of integration in that the way 
the environing situation is articulated into parts is in terms of internal 
standards operative at the time, rendering the individual selective 
toward a particular feature of his environment and reciprocally endow- 
ing particular aspects of the situation with relevance for the perceiver. 

Stages of Conceptual Development 

Concepts May Be Placed at Different Levels or 
Stages of Concreteness-Abstractness 

We proposed that differentiation-integration is a process through 
which concepts develop and a means by which the concepts attain 
some level on the dimension of concreteness-abstractness. It is the levels 
of concreteness-abstractness at which concepts may be placed to which 
we propose to apply the term stages and not to differentiation-integra- 
tion as such. The level of abstractness, in this sense, represents the how 
of differentiation and integration, how the ambiguous or undifferen- 
tiated is broken or differentiated into parts and then integrated or inter- 
related into a conceptual pattern. 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 23 

Although differentiation-integration and concreteness-abstractness 
are inseparably linked, we would like to attempt a distinction by 
viewing the former as a psychological process or activity and concrete- 
ness-abstractness as a resultant or outgrowth of this process. This cause 
and effect relationship, however, like most such relationships, is 
reciprocal. A given level or stage of concreteness-abstractness is at- 
tained through differentiation-integration, but this same level or stage 
of abstractness affects both what kind of differentiations or discrimi- 
nations of the environing stimuli are made and how these are subse- 
quently organized or integrated by their being related to existing 
internal standards. 

As a result of his biological make-up man can respond to only certain 
stimuli, and even these are dependent on the level of maturational 
development. Sound waves that surpass 20,000 to 25,000 cps are 
beyond the upper ranges of human auditory reception. Certain motor 
and other types of learning cannot develop until neurological develop- 
ment reaches a certain stage. The child, for example, is unable to walk, 
to control his elimination process, and to develop more abstract con- 
cepts until the central nervous system has gone through certain 
necessary stages of development. 

More Specific Characterization of "Stages" 

Few attempts have been aimed at delineating exactly what is meant 
by the term "stage" despite the frequent postulation of stages in the 
development of the phenomenon under consideration. Hence the 
criteria that can be appropriately applied to distinguish between stages 
are also lacking. 

The most frequent use of the term "stage" seems to refer to a more 
or less constant rate of some index of performance or behavior — 
maturational, motor, linguistic, social, and others — over a time span of 
varying lengths. A marked change in the rate or curve of performance, 
in terms of whatever manifestation is being indexed, is taken to repre- 
sent both the beginning and terminating points of a given stage. A 
given stage exists as long as, and to the extent that, constancy of the 
behavioral index is maintained, whether the rate of performance or 
development is ascending at a fairly constant rate, maintaining a 
plateau at a fairly constant rate, or descending at a fairly constant rate. 
Some writers would prefer to speak only of the more or less level 
plateaus as stages and the ascending or descending of rates of 
performance toward or away from this as transition. Thus if the total 
picture of the behavior were being looked at, one technically could 
equate stage with state and accordingly speak of stages of transition, 



24 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

of plateaus or levels, of ascendancy or decline. Furthermore, the 
temporal length of the fairly constant rate, whatever its direction, and 
the magnitude of the change in the developmental index that is taken 
to mark the beginning and terminating ends of a stage can — and do — 
vary as a function of the behavioral manifestations under observation 
and the instruments employed in the observations. The what and the 
how of observation, of course, vary in turn with the problem and the 
theoretical approach of the observer; in the absence of fixed criteria, 
they are defined by him. 

Our use of the term "stage" in the present book refers to levels of 
cognitive functioning on what we assume to be a continuous dimension 
of concreteness-abstractness. As we repeatedly stress, no level is 
absolutely constant, even across a relatively brief time span or for 
only a few repeated measures. In the strict sense if a level encompasses 
variability at all, then it has simultaneously aspects both of levels and 
transition, of plateau and of either decline or ascendancy, in the rate 
of performance or behavior being measured. By a level we would want 
only to imply a range of behavior within which the behavioral con- 
stancy showed less variability than between it and other groups of 
measurement. 

We later employ the term "stage" to refer to a plateau or nodal 
point of conceptual development, "transition," as the in-between state 
of conceptual development from a less abstract to a more abstract stage 
or nodal point, and "regression," of which we make but little and 
restricted use ( see Chapter 9 ) , as a kind of dedifferentiation, or more 
accurately of deintegration, in which the individual abandons a more 
abstract level of functioning in favor of a more concrete level. We 
would like to stress, in accord with the emphasis of Murphy (1947), 
that under conditions of conceptual progression, regression, or arresta- 
tion there is no such thing as a pure or discontinuous level of con- 
creteness-abstractness. Each always has some characteristic of another, 
adjacent or more remote, level. 

Since the primary focus of this book is on the differential aspects of 
varying levels of concreteness-abstractness, both as "cause" and 
"effect," let us turn to a fairly detailed characterization of this im- 
portant conceptual property. 

Concreteness-Abstractness 

Some General Characteristics 

Concreteness-abstractness is assumed to be an attribute of the con- 
cepts or patterning of stimuli and not of the stimuli themselves. It is 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 25 

a quality of the tie or linkage between a subject and an object and 
does not per se refer to the subject or the object. In the words of 
Goldstein and Scheerer (1941), whose work has been so instrumental 
in demonstrating the importance of this conceptual dimension, it refers 
to "A capacity level of the total personality in a specific plane of 
activity" (p. 2). 

Variation in the level of concreteness-abstractness results in differ- 
ences in "stimulus boundness," the extent to which the receiving and 
responding individual is restricted to or can go beyond the physical 
characteristics of the immediately impinging stimuli in organizing his 
evaluation and experience of a situation. The greater one's abstractness, 
( 1 ) the greater is his ability to transcend immediacy and to move more 
into the temporally and spatially remote, (2) and the more capable 
he is of abstracting relationships from objects of his experience and of 
organizing them in terms of their interr elatedness. The greater one's 
concreteness, on the other hand, the greater the degree of stimulus 
"oughtness" in dictating his response, with concomitants almost op- 
posite to greater abstractness. Furthermore, whereas the more ab- 
stractly functioning individual tends toward differentiating his world 
into many facets and integrating them holistically but interdependently, 
the more concretistically functioning person is more likely to make 
only few differentiations of his environment and to leave these cognitive 
"elements" in a greater state of isolation. Thus although both the more 
concretely and more abstractly functioning persons might display 
holistic cognitive structures and responses, the underlying basis of 
the two would be vastly different, the former resting on an undiffer- 
entiated totality whereas the latter is underlaid by a differentiated and 
integrated holism. As Murphy who, like Spencer, views cognitive 
activities as developing through the three stages of undifferentiation 
to differentiation to integration, suggests: 

. . . the statement that the organism reacts "as a whole" has a different 
meaning at each stage of development. Diffuse wholeness at the first level 
of development is different from the more and more differentiated wholeness 
exhibited at the second level in the maturational phenomena, and differs 
again from the integrated wholeness which appears when the differentiated 
functions achieve a stable, articulated interdependence (1947, p. 67). 

Greater abstractness, according to Goldstein and Scheerer (1941), 
provides the bases in the individual for the following "conscious" and 
"volitional" modes of behavior: 

1. To detach our ego from the outerworld or from inner experiences. 

2. To assume a mental set. 

3. To account for acts to oneself; to verbalize the account. 

4. To shift reflectively from one aspect of the situation to another. 



26 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

5. To hold in mind simultaneously various aspects. 

6. To grasp the essential of a given whole; to break up a given whole 
into parts, to isolate and to synthesize them. 

7. To abstract common properties reflectively; to form hierarchic con- 
cepts. 

8. To plan ahead ideationally; to assume an attitude towards the more 
possible and to think or perform symbolically (Goldstein and Scheerer, 
1941, p. 4). 

The more concrete behavior, on the other hand, "has not the above 
mentioned characteristics" (p. 4). In fact, it is the discontinuous op- 
posite to abstract behavior, in the thinking of Goldstein and Scheerer 
(1941). Having as its "outstanding" characteristic, the closeness of 
responses or patternings to "immediate reality," suggest these authors, 
it is demonstrated in such ways as rigid dependence upon the familiar, 
response to object more in isolation than as member of an abstracted 
class, greater concern with specific details, and a tendency to evaluate 
objects in terms of their personal use to the subject rather than being 
grouped according to a more abstract characteristic (such as form, 
color, or material) (pp. 87-93). 

The Dimension of Concreteness-Abstractness 
Is Qualitatively Continuous 

The difference between the more concrete and the more abstract 
ways of ordering the world, although marked indeed, are viewed by 
us as representing variations in magnitude and not quality. This 
conceptual dimension is thus taken to be continuous rather than 
discrete. 

It should be pointed out that viewing concreteness-abstractness as 
different ends of a continuum is not in line with the position of Gold- 
stein and Scheerer. These authors maintain: 

. . . There is a pronounced line of demarcation between these two at- 
titudes which does not represent a gradual ascent from more simple to more 
complex mental sets. The greater difficulty connected with the abstract ap- 
proach is not simply one of greater complexity, measured by the number 
of separate, subservient functions involved. It demands rather the behavior 
of the new emergent quality, generically different from the concrete (1941, 
p. 22). 

Within these discontinuous levels, however, these authors point out 
that gradations exist, of more and less concreteness or abstractness, but 
still these gradations do not blend so that the lowest level of concrete- 
ness would also represent the lowest level of abstraction. 

Murphy ( 1947 ) , on the other hand, who approaches the problem of 
concreteness-abstractness in other terms — as levels or stages in the 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 27 

developmental sequence from undifferentiation to differentiation to 
integration — views the behavioral manifestations of these conceptual 
properties as representing a common continuum. 

Yet with reference to all organismic philosophies which stress totality, 
[he suggests] emphasis needs to be placed upon the continuum that exists 
between levels one and two, i.e., between pure undifferentiatedness at the 
one theoretical extreme and absolute sharpness of differentiation at the 
other, and likewise on the continuum between the second level, complete 
differentiation, and the third level, complete integration. These extreme or 
pure cases are seldom completely realized in fact, but enormous variations 
exist which can be ranged between the extremes (p. 67). . . . The three 
stages in development characteristically appear in the order named, but a 
step back and then forward again is frequendy observed. And alongside the 
differentiated and the integrated, some of the original undifferentiated 
survives ( pp. 67—68). 

The question of whether a more abstract level of functioning is 
only a quantitative extension of a more concrete level, and the two 
levels are hence continuous, as Murphy suggests, or is so qualitatively 
different from the more concrete functioning that it is discontinuous 
from it, as Goldstein and Scheerer maintain, is indeed an old — and 
yet unresolved — one. It is, among other questions, the problem of 
reductionism versus holism, or relatedly, of quantitv versus quality, 
issues with which psychology — indeed all of science — has spent much 
effort. Points of view on this issue, which most clearly separated the 
"Gestalters" and the "Structuralists," for instance, have not been 
agreed upon but only bypassed or overlooked in pursuit of a concern 
with different types of questions. 

It seems to us that although ". . . the stream of behavior" may be 
seen not "to flow smoothly, but to occur in easily perceived bursts 
and breaks" (Barker, 1957, p. 156), such variation could as well 
represent a continuity as be expressive of a qualitative break. 

Attribution of a discontinuity is probablv a function of the aspect 
of behavior being observed or measured and the method bv which the 
observation is obtained. It frequently results from concern with 
phenotypic expressions rather than with genotypic function and under- 
lying process. The genotvpe mav be expressed in phenotypic opposites: 
one person, for example, might show his insecurity 7 by reacting very 
aggressively whereas another would reticently withdraw from contact 
with others. Thus one investigator who was more concerned with 
functions of behavior might from the same behavioral manifestations 
infer what he considered continuities; another whose observations 
were of expressions of this function might infer such marked variability 
that he would attribute it to breaks and discontinuities. In short, before 



28 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

speaking of continuities and discontinuities, due attention must be 
given to the what that is being measured and the dimension of the 
observation. Very pertinent to this issue is the elaboration of William 
James on his assertion that objection to viewing the stream of thought 
or consciousness as continuous is "based partly on a confusion and 
partly on a superficial introspective view." 

The confusion is between the thoughts themselves, taken as subjective 
facts, and the things of which they are aware. . . . The things are discrete 
and discontinuous; they do pass before us in a train or chain, making often 
explosive appearances and rending each other in twain. But their comings 
and goings and contrasts no more break the flow of thought that links them 
than they break the time and the space in which they lie. A silence may be 
broken by a thunder-clap, and we may be so stunned and confused for a 
moment by the shock as to give no instant account to ourselves of what 
has happened. But that very confusion is a mental state, and a state that 
passes us straight over from the silence to the sound. The transition between 
the thought of one object and the thought of another is no more a break in 
the thought than a joint in a bamboo is a break in the wood. It is a part of 
the consciousness as much as the joint is a part of the bamboo (James, 1890, 
Vol. I, p. 240). 

Examples of Concreteness-Abstractness 

We shall leave unresolved the issue of whether concreteness-abstract- 
ness is more appropriately viewed as a qualitatively continuous or 
discontinuous dimension; the following examples, which parallel the 
criteria of Goldstein and Scheerer, are intended to give the flavor of 
the difference between more abstract and more concrete functioning: 

1. DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN THE OUTER AND 
INNER WORLDS IN THE EGO AND EXPERIENCE 

In extreme concrete patterning the subject is unable to assume an 
"as if" attitude or set. He does not distinguish between the external 
world and his own wishes, dreams, and desires; they are experienced as 
continuous. Werner shows how this holds true for infrahuman species, 
for "primitives," for very young children, and for "psychotics." Young 
children, before a stabilized self is evolved, often have great difficulty 
in distinguishing between a world of fantasy and the real world. The 
primitive dreams something and this becomes the world in terms of 
which he orients his own behavior and expects others to behave, even 
to the point of giving to him what the dream indicated that he had 
(Werner, 1957; Levy-Bruhl, 1923). 1 

1 In our usage of primitive thinking as an example of concrete functioning we 
are aware of our departure from the usual position of the social scientist. It is 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 29 

The young child and the primitives have never differentiated their 
world, whereas a psychotic or brain-damaged person, on the other 
hand, may have initially differentiated his environment but lost it due 
to some impairment so that consequently he manifests many of the 
same characteristics as the children and primitives. The psychotic 
may organize his conceptual system and behavior in terms of "voices" 
or "biddings" from a physical, extrapersonal source, while the brain- 
damaged person may be no less controlled by the physical character- 
istics of the stimuli. Illustrative of the latter is the behavior of a brain- 
damaged patient described by Goldstein and Scheerer ( 1941 ) when 
asked to repeat the sentence: 

. . . The snow is black. [First he refused, insisting the snow was white.] 
. . . The examiner explained to him that such senseless phrases can be 
repeated even though they are not true, and then urged the patient to 
repeat the sentence. Now the patient repeated the requested sentence, but 
mumbled immediately afterwards: "No the snow is white." The same patient 
could not be induced to repeat the sentence "the sun is shining" on a rainy 
day (pp. 4-5) . 

He could not relinquish his fixed and narrow system of ordering to 
the point of permitting a different, hypothetical, evaluation. 

2. ASSUMPTION OF A MENTAL SET 
WILFULLY AND CONSCIOUSLY 

An extreme contrast between concrete and abstract behavior is 
demonstrative of the difference between a taxic or tropistic response, 
on the one extreme, and response to a complex problem by insightful 
solution, on the other. In the former, because of a stimulus oughtness, 
the subject can ( even must ) behave in a certain way as long as certain 
physical stimuli are present; in the latter, this is not so. For example, 
a brain-damaged patient described by Goldstein and Scheerer was 
unable to set the hands of a clock to a time suggested by the ex- 
perimenter but could recognize what time it was when the clock, with 
hands already set, was presented to him (p. 5). A striking parallel of 

important to keep in mind that concreteness-abstractness refers to a structural di- 
mension of conceptual functioning, not to the content or objects of thought. Hence to 
the extent that any individual, "primitive" or "cosmopolite," manifests ( a ) lack of 
differentiation of the self from his environing world or ( b ) animism ( for example, 
practicing sorcery in an attempt to control an omnipotent environment), he will 
be considered to be displaying conceptual functioning that meets some of the cri- 
teria we have proposed for concreteness. Needless to add, membership in Western 
or other complex societies does not gurarantee functioning at an abstract level, as 
can be noted from the prevalence of compartmentalized functioning, stereotypy and 
other expressions of conceptual closedness. 



30 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

this at the infrahuman level is reported in a study of the behavior 
of a spider carried out by Grunbaum and quoted by Werner ( 1957 ) : 

. . . The spider sits in the funnel and is occupied with an entangled fly. 
A vibrating wire (48 cycles) is put through the wall of the nest and 
through the mesh of the web, and then brought into contact with the 
abdomen of the spider in the region of the spinning wart. As soon as the wire 
thread touches the body of the spider, she drops her prey, dashes forth 
from the nest, and fastens onto the wire in the mesh of the web, shrouding 
it industriously with her spinnerets. Although the wire cannot possibly serve 
as food, the spider does not cease her attack so long as the wire continues 
to vibrate (p. 106). 

3. ACCOUNTING FOR ONE'S ACTS TO ONESELF 
OR TO OTHERS AND VERBALIZING THE ACT 

This is closely akin to "taking the role of the other," emphasized by 
G. H. Mead (1934). To do this, however, demands a certain level of 
differentiation of the parts of the acts and integration of them in a way 
that interdependence and reciprocity are recognized. The young child, 
to assume the position of both the respondent and recipient, to carry 
out "a conversation of attitudes," to use Mead's phrase, must have 
differentiated the self from others and be able to imagine that "When 
I do this, he should do that," and vice versa. This recognition of inter- 
dependence and reciprocity can occur only extremely rudimentarily, 
if at all, prior to the advent of language ability. 

Goldstein and Scheerer ( 1941 ) give as an example of the above the 
brain-damaged patient who was able to throw balls into boxes of 
varying distance from him without ever missing. However, when the 
subject was asked which box was further and which was nearer, he 
was ". . . unable to give any account or to make a statement concern- 
ing his procedure in aiming. Another patient points correctly to the 
source of a noise, but cannot state the direction from which the noise 
originated" (p. 5). 

4. ABILITY TO SHIFT REFLECTIVELY FROM ONE 
ASPECT OF THE SITUATION TO ANOTHER 

This refers to the extent to which the subject can shift his own 
behavior or set from one type of task demand to another as the situation 
becomes altered. The more concrete subject may continue his way of 
responding even when the situation becomes markedly altered: 

A patient [related Goldstein and Scheerer (1941)] who has just suc- 
ceeded in reciting the days of the week is now asked to recite the alphabet. 
He cannot shift to this task, and only after repeated promptings, or better 
stated, after the examiner has commenced to call out the alphabet, can the 
patient follow in his recitation (p. 5). 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 31 

This and other examples of effects of brain damage cited by the 
above authors is paralleled at the infrahmnan level by the nest-building 
activity of the bee, for example, described by Werner ( 1957 ) : 

A small solitary-bee uses the house of a certain species of snail as a place 
to lay her eggs. After the eggs are laid in the snail's shell, the bee makes a 
hole 6-7 cm. deep in the earth, and places the shell in this hole. When 
Ferton removed such a shell from the hole into which the bee had just 
slipped it, the insect continued with its work, filling the hole, smoothing 
over the earth, and otherwise finishing the task exactly as if everything was 
normal (p. 109). 

5. THE SIMULTANEOUS HOLDING IN 
MIND OF VARIOUS ASPECTS 

Certainly before the variously differentiated parts can be integrated 
into a more comprehensive and interrelated totality the "elements" 
must be sufficiently contiguous in the conceptual storage-bin so that 
they can be put together. The more abstract the functioning of the 
individual, however, the larger time span that is possible between the 
events that are related — from almost zero, for some infrahuman species, 
to marked temporal and spatial separation, for the normally function- 
ing human adult. As Whitehead suggests (1938), ". . . The distinction 
between men and animals is in one sense only a difference in degree. 
But the extent of the degree makes all the difference. The Rubicon 
has been crossed" (p. 38). Some of these differences may be seen 
from the results of studies on delayed response, on delayed and 
double alternation, and other tasks involving retention of order of 
sequence (Munn, 1950). 

In one of the earliest studies on the topic, Hunter ( 1913 ) found that 
the maximum time intervals in which different species could respond 
correctly to a delayed response test was: the rat, up to 10 seconds; 
the cat, up to 18 seconds; the dog, up to 3 minutes; a two-and-one-half- 
year-old child, up to 50 seconds; and a five-year-old child up to 20 
minutes or more. On a related task, where, for example, the animal is 
placed in a box with three pedals or platforms, which it has to push 
a certain number of times and in a certain order to obtain food, clear- 
cut differences are found in the length of order that can be mastered 
correctly by animals at varying levels on the phylogenetic scale. The 
median lengths of correct sequences were: the guinea pig, 1; the rat, 
1; the kitten, 3; Rhesus monkey, 5; and Cebus monkey, 9% (Munn, 
1955). On the alternation tasks animals can delay only briefly for 
correct responses as compared to a human who is functioning at normal 
level of abstraction. 



32 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Almost all of our educational practices are based on the assumption 
that once something is differentiated and learned, it can be "held in 
mind' until later training experiences (somewhere in the ideal and 
remote future) give rise to the differentiation of new parts that will 
be interrelated with older ones for the formation of a higher level of 
knowledge. This educational tenet, probably faulty for even the more 
abstract individual, certainly would be unwarranted for such persons 
as the patients described by Goldstein and Scheerer ( 1941 ) : 

A patient is instructed to press the lever in the reaction time apparatus 
set-up at the appearance of the red light. He does this correctly. If, however, 
instructed to respond to only one of two colored lights which are given in 
irregular succession (red, green), the patient responds by pressing the 
lever whenever any one of the lights appears. A patient is instructed to 
cross out the letter X in one of the concentration tests. She begins by 
following the instruction but after having carried out the task correctly 
through a few lines of the test, she continues to cross out every letter (p. 6) . 

6. GRASPING THE ESSENTIAL OF A GIVEN 
WHOLE, BREAKING IT UP INTO PARTS, 
ISOLATING AND SYNTHESIZING THEM 

The more concretely functioning individual tends to make only gross 
differentiations of simple dimensions, and these he fails to perceive as 
being interrelated. Hence he tends to keep each differentiated part 
compartmentalized or isolated from the others, preventing synthesis 
in the cognitive outcome. Goldstein and Scheerer (1941) illustrated 
this by showing that: 

If a [brain damaged] patient is confronted with a picture which tells a 
story (The Terman-Binet Pictures or the Kuhlman, e.g., the Snowball or 
Blind Man's Bluff), he is able only to enumerate individual items and does 
not grasp the point. He neither finds the essential relations between the 
persons acting in the picture, nor can he grasp the gist of the story. 
Evidently, the patient is unable to synthesize the individual events into a 
meaningful whole (p. 6). 

This is paralleled by the behavior described by Werner (1957) of 
a four-year-old girl who failed to differentiate the aspects of a drawing 
made by an older child of a duck sitting on a rock. The drawing con- 
sisted of a crude ellipse with an X marked at a point on the lower side 
and the duck, with his feet within the ellipse and his body out, on the 
top side. 

The little girl pointed to the place on the drawing marked by a cross, and 
said: "Duck!" I asked: "But where is the duck?" The child indicated the 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 33 

large circle. I repeated the question, saying: "Where is the duck's head?" 
The child pointed to the duck's breast. Finally I asked: "How big is the 
duck, then?" The child replied by framing the whole contour of the picture 
with her hands (pp. 112-113). 

Gross differentiations and compartmentalization of the parts also 'are 
typically manifested by persons of strong social stereotypes. One con- 
sequence of this lack of organizational synthesis is demonstrated in 
behavior that from the point of logical consistency may appear 
contradictory. One might editorialize and proselytize for the brother- 
hood of man and at the same time, incognizant of the logical in- 
consistency, maintain strongly that Negroes should "be kept in their 
place." 

7. THE REFLECTIVE ABSTRACTION OF COMMON 
PROPERTIES AND THE FORMATION OF 
HIERARCHIC CONCEPTS 

A patient can count numbers on his fingers [state Goldstein and Scheerer 
(1941)] and by various roundabout methods; in this fashion he can even 
obtain the results which look like subtraction and addition, but he is entirely 
unable to state whether 7 or 4 is more and has no concept of the value of 
numbers whatsoever. Patients of this type have no understanding of an- 
alogies or metaphors, since in both the abstractions of a common property 
is necessary. They fail on a simple syllogism or on tests of finding the 
common denominator of several items (p. 7). 

This behavior approaches in appearance and concreteness the "talk- 
ing" and "counting" of horses and dogs featured in motion pictures, 
carnivals, and so forth. These animals, with the help of cues from the 
trainers, can make what seems to the naive observer numerical dis- 
tinctions, but in reality they have no conception of number as such 
whatsoever. Also: 

. . . The primitive American Abipone Indians can tell without counting 
whether one of their dogs is missing from the pack when they leave for 
the hunt; it is simply not necessary for them to count because they ex- 
perience the individuality of all domestic animals in a characteristically 
concrete manner. Even when a group of totally unknown objects or 
persons is under consideration, the primitive man often tries to conceive 
it as a manifold of characteristically divergent individuals. Thurnwald re- 
ports of the Solomon Islanders: If five newly arrived persons are to be 
designated, one does not say that five persons have just come, not even 
if their names are not known. One may say: "A man with a large nose, an 
old man, a child, a man with a skin disease, and a little fellow are waiting 
outside" (Werner, 1957, p. 288). 



34 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

8. PLANNING AHEAD IDEATION ALLY AND 
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE ATTITUDE 

OF "the mere possible" 

Individuals performing at the more concrete level could hardly be 
expected to represent formidable opponents in chess or in any other 
skill that necessitated a strategy involving a planned course of 
future action. Conceptualizing the future is markedly limited in such 
persons, their concern being with the immediate here and now. Gold- 
stein and Scheerer's brain-damaged patients of this sort, for example, 
could easily find their way in walking from the ward into a room or 
from the hospital to their home, but they were unable to draw a map 
of their route or to describe it verbally. Similarly, one of the striking 
effects of a prefrontal lobotomy is to reduce the subject's concern with 
the future, apparently resulting from his loss of ability to transcend 
the immediate present. This is much akin to the behavior of the child 
who may be heading toward one goal object and suddenly become 
diverted by another object in his path. Both have only rudimentary 
concepts of futurity and hence are more distractible by whatever is in 
the immediate present. 

The more concretely functioning subjects furthermore cannot trans- 
fer a response from one context to another. For example, some of the 
patients of Goldstein and Scheerer could write their names on paper 
but could not make the same writing motions in the air, and other 
patients could not continue hammering after the nail was removed. 

Some Effects of Differences in 
Concreteness-Abstractness on 
Reactions to Interpersonal 
Stimuli 

Differentiation May Occur from Direct 
or Indirect Experience with an 
Object or Class of Objects 

Both the quantity and quality of differentiations and integrations that 
one makes, hence the level of abstractness attained, may result from 
direct, face-to-face, experience with a phenomenon. Or the level of 
abstractness may represent distinctions based not upon direct ex- 
perience with the object to which they refer but upon social norms and 
other short-cut dicta, which may have been accepted from the various 
groups, especially reference groups, with which their holder has had 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 35 

contact. In both cases, of course, experience is involved — as it in- 
evitably must be. But in the latter situation the bases of differentiation 
are more or less handed to one in ready-made form, the result being 
that a group-defined mold is indirectly provided to one into which his 
subsequent discriminations and experience of the object(s) will be 
cast — even if later direct experience of the object occurs. 

The epitome of ready-made and indirectly derived categories for 
differentiating and integrating one's world are the schemata provided 
by social stereotypes. Most of the group prejudices come from contact 
with related stereotypes instead of direct contact with the group toward 
which the prejudice exists (Horowitz, 1936; Hartley, 1946; Goodman, 
1952; Sherif and Sherif, 1953) . The acceptance of such social stereotypes 
is presumably a consequence of the degree of one's positive identifica- 
tion with the group holding the stereotypes. Adoption of these ster- 
eotypes necessarily limits the number and kind of differentiations 
and integrations one will subsequently make of the phenomenon under 
observation. If the group-provided conceptual mold is rigid enough, 
the holder of the stereotype will tend, because of a more closed 
concept, to perceive the objects in a way to reinforce and not to weaken 
his conceptual schemata. 

Effects of Stereotypes and Other Socially 
Transmitted Categories Are Made Possible 
by the Advent of Language Ability 

Until the child develops the captcity for language, he is restricted 
for the most part to a very concrete level of functioning and to direct 
experience with the object in his consequent concepts of it. Once lan- 
guage emerges, however, it provides a basis for the child's moving 
into a plane of greater abstract ability where he no longer is bounded 
by the sensory present. Instead he is now capable of getting his con- 
cepts and ways of ordering events in ready-made form from cultural 
sources as these are mediated to him by significant others about him 
— first by his family and later by his peers and other reference groups. 
Studies of the development of prejudice in the young child show this 
clearly ( Horowitz, 1936; Horowitz and Horowitz, 1937; Criswell, 1939; 
Clark and Clark, 1940; Goodman, 1952). The extent to which the 
initial racial concepts of a child, prior to the level of abstract function- 
ing that makes possible the internalization of social norms, may con- 
trast with his later stereotypes is strikingly demonstrated in a study by 
Stevenson and Stuart (1958). A group of Mexican, Negro, and white 
children attending an integrated nursery school reacted with mild be- 
wilderment and simple curiosity when they first discovered the differ- 



36 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

ences in skin color amongst them. Some of the white children, due to 
their numerical minority, needed to be reassured by their parents that 
nothing was wrong with them simply because their own skins were 
lighter than those of most of their schoolmates. 

The advent of language ability does not, of course, insure progression 
of the individual from the more concrete to the more abstract levels 
of functioning. That is to say, language is necessary for progression 
but not sufficient. Arrestation may occur at any stage of development 
or level of abstractness not only because of lack of language ability 
but also often because of limited "effective intelligence" (Copple, 
1957), brought about by restricted cultural alternatives presented to 
one as stimuli and by experiences connected with social training that 
dispose one toward insecurity and fear of moving on to the more ab- 
stract planes, further away from the more secure ties provided by 
concreteness (see Chapters 5 and 6). In reality, social stereotypy 
seems to be related in a curvilinear fashion to language ability and 
differentiation. Prior to language development only the grossest kinds 
of differentiations may occur, and these are more on the basis of 
biogenic needs and direct experience, with the result that social 
stereotypes cannot be transmitted and learned. With the appearance 
of language, however, gross differentiations may now be made on a 
new basis, that of socially transmitted stereotypes. Such stereotypy 
will tend to prevail until the individual makes finer differentiations, 
some of which may have elements of socially transmitted bases in them 
whereas others may be a consequence of direct experience with the 
object of stereotypy, experiences which may invalidate some aspects 
of the original blanket stereotype. 

Greater Concreteness Tends to be Accompanied 
by Absolutism and Categorical Thinking 

The more concretely functioning individual, possessed of concepts 
based on minimal dimensions and alternatives, tends to be more 
categorical and absolutistic in his cognitive processes. He is more 
likely to conceptualize in bifurcations, in black or white, or at the most 
in minimum alternatives. Consequently he will be more stereotyped in 
his responses and more antagonistic to events that deviate from his 
narrowly circumscribed system of ordering. Simultaneously he will 
tend ordinarily to be more resistant but actually, under certain con- 
ditions, more susceptible to altering his tentative but more inflexible 
conceptual patterning. Brain-damaged persons often display these 
characteristics (Goldstein and Scheerer, 1941; Teuber, Battersby, and 
Bender, 1951; Semmes, Weinstein, and Ghent and Teuber, 1954) as do 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 37 

children who are first beginning to learn social norms and rules of the 
games. And so do many "primitives" whose development has been 
arrested by limited cultural alternatives. 

The almost ritualistic adherence to rules by the social novitiate for 
whom the rules are undifferentiated is poignantly sketched by Smith 
(1957) in a description of childhood absolutism: 

But whatever way you played, that was the way, that way the only way 
to play, and you would have no more of me telling you than I will of you 
telling me now (p. 10). 

I suppose this is just an indication of my advanced years, but I don't 
know things now like I used to know them. What we knew as kids, what 
we learned from other kids, was not tentatively true, or extremely probable, 
or proven by science or polls or surveys. It was so. . . . We were savages, 
we were in that stage of the world's history when the earth stood still 
and everything else moved. I wrote on the flyleaf of my schoolbooks, and 
apparently every other kid in the world did, including James Joyce and Abe 
Lincoln and I am sure Tito and Fats Waller and Michelangelo, in descend- 
ing order my name, my street, my town, my county, my state, my country, 
my continent, my hemisphere, my planet, my solar system. And let nobody 
dissemble: it started out with me, the universe was the outer circle of a 
number of concentric rings, and the center point was me, me, me, sixty-two 
pounds wringing wet with heavy shoes on (pp. 22-23). 

... If you cut yourself in the web of skin between your thumb and fore- 
finger, you die. That's it. No ifs or buts. Cut. Die. ... If you eat sugar 
lumps, you get worms. If you cut a worm in half, he don't [sic] feel a 
thing, and you get two worms. Grasshoppers spit tobacco. Step on a 
crack, break your mother's back. Walk past a house with a quarantine sign, 
and don't hold your breath, and you get sick and die. Play with yourself 
too much, your brain gets soft. Cigarettes stunt your growth. Some people 
are double jointed, and by that we didn't mean any jazz like very loose 
tendons or whatever the facts are. This guy had two joints where we had 
one. A Dodge (if your family happened to own a Dodge) was the best car 
in the whole world (Smith, 1957, pp. 23-24). 

Violation of one rule at this poorly differentiated, shakily integrated, 
and concrete phase of concept development tends to be met with an 
absolutistic application of another rule. Piaget's study of the moral 
development of the child (1932), for example, showed younger chil- 
dren to make no discrimination between the badness of another child's 
wilful and accidental breakage of an important family possession or, 
consequently, to vary in the certainty and severity of the punishment 
they thought was deserved for the act. 

Werner's (1957) comparative study of mental development and 
Levy-Bruhi's classic work on "primitive mentality" (1923) are replete 
with examples of absolutism among children, "primitives," and 
schizophrenics. In line with Piaget's finding that it is the act itself and 
not the intent of the act that is judged by children with poorly differ- 



38 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

entiated and more concrete conceptual standards, Werner (1957) 
quotes anthropological works to show the same thing among many 
"primitives": 

From his varied experience with Indian tribes, Radin decides that 
ethical traits of personality are not thought of as living principles or 
potentialities inherent in the individual. He concludes that for a primitive 
people "ethics is based on behavior. ... It is not the motive, the hidden 
intent, but the action itself which determines the evil-doer." "Criminal 
intent," says Lowie, "does not play nearly the same role in primitive law as 
in our own jurisprudence." Goddard relates an incident occurring among the 
Hupas which might serve as a classic example. "A child was accidentally 
burned to death in a fire that some woman had built outdoors to heat water 
for washing. Aldiough this woman was in no way reprehensible, the life 
of her own son was sought in recompense." Even if allowance is made for 
various exceptions to the rule, "it remains true that the ethical motive of 
an act is more frequently regarded as irrelevant in the ruder cultures than 
in our own courts of justice" (p. 426). 

Greater Concreteness Is Expressed in Attribution 
of External Causality and Oughtness to Rules 

In the cognitive functioning of an individual, for example, a child, 
with poorly differentiated and concrete concepts: 

. . . Outer world and inner experience constitute an undivided unity, of 
such a kind that the events of the surrounding world appear to be in- 
timately linked with the ego and its needs (Werner, 1957, p. 319). 
[Similarly] Primitive man is certain there is no fundamental difference be- 
tween the sphere of subjective phenomena and that of (intersubjective) 
objective phenomena (Werner, 1957, p. 339). 

One result of this lack of demarcation between the "outside" and 
"inside" world is that wish, belief, and other feelings are viewed as 
being coextensive with the outside world and to be inherent in the 
external world. As part of "mystic and invisible forces," of which Levy- 
Bruhl speaks so much ( 1923 ) , the feelings and inclinations one has are 
evaluated as coming from outside him in the form of bidding to a 
kind of action; they do not originate within him. This view of external 
causality may become so compelling that when one wants something 
he may legitimately demand it — not because he wishes it but because 
the external and omnipotent force wishes him to have it (Levy-Bruhl, 
1923 ) . Dreams are also among the vehicles through which the mystical 
force lets its wishes be known and such a divination is reality for the 
more undifferentiated and concrete thinker. Illustrative of this point 
is Levy-Bruhl's (1923) quotation from the Reverend W. B. Grubb: 

. . . This man arrived at my village from a place about a hundred and 
fifty miles off. He asked me for compensation for some pumpkins which 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 39 

I had recently stolen from his garden. I was thoroughly surprised, and told 
him I had not been near his village for a very long time, and so could not 
possibly have stolen his pumpkins. At first I thought he was joking, but 
I soon perceived that he was quite serious. It was a novel experience for 
me to be accused by an Indian of theft. On my expostulating with him, he 
admitted quite frankly that I had not taken the pumpkins. When he said 
this I was more bewildered still. I should have lost patience with him, had 
he not been evidently in real earnest, and I became deeply interested instead. 
Eventually I discovered that he had dreamed he was out in his garden 
one night, and saw me, from behind some tall plants, break off and carry 
away three pumpkins, and it was payment for these that he wanted. "Yes," 
I said, "but you have just admitted that I had not taken them." He again 
assented, but replied immediately: "If you had been there you would have 
taken them" thus showing he regarded the act of my soul, which he supposed 
had met his in the garden, to be really my will, and what I should actually 
have done had I been there (pp. 106—107). 

Young children also fail to distinguish between their world of 
fantasy and dreams and the objective world about them. Werner 
(1957) points out that: 

For the child the reality of the dream and of the waking world are 
relatively undifferentiated. Children have to learn to distinguish between 
the dream and waking reality. At this stage waking reality often exhibits 
some of the characteristics peculiar to the dream; the events of the waking 
world, for example, are often immediately configurable through the emotions 
of fear or wishfulness. Some illuminating examples of this configurative 
power of the wish will demonstrate how much less well defined is the 
transition from the dream to the waking world of fantasy. A 4:2 year-old 
girl unintentionally throws her slate to the floor. I look at her angrily, and 
immediately she says in all seriousness: "The cat did it!" In this instance 
there was no jesting or playfulness. It may be said that the wish to put the 
blame on someone else realized itself spontaneously (p. 390). 

Failure of the individual to differentiate between his own experience 
and the external world results in his self not being clearly and consist- 
ently articulated. Until the self does reach a certain growth, it does 
not enter as a major referent into the individual's attribution of 
causality. Instead of perceiving the self as the source of cause of an 
event, external or internal, the cause is seen to stem from external 
sources. 

In a general way there is no such thing as chance to a mind like this, 
nor can there be, [asserts Levy-Bruhl] . Not because it is convinced of the 
rigid determinism of phenomena; on the contrary, [he continues], indeed, 
since it has not the most remote idea of such determinism, it remains in- 
different to the relation of cause and effect, and attributes a mystic origin 
to every event which makes an impression on it. Since occult forces are 
always felt to be present, the more accidental an occurrence seems to us, 
the more significant it will appear to the primitive mind. There is no 
necessity to explain it; it explains itself, it is a revelaton (pp. 43-44) . 



40 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

With further differentiation of the self from the rest of the world, 
the individual comes to attribute greater causality to his own acts. 
This more advanced type of causal reasoning, which has been termed 
"if . . . then" thinking by Werner (1957, p. 323), can be seen from 
Piaget's study of the development of the child's understanding of the 
dream (1929) from which he inferred three different levels of inter- 
pretation between the ages of four and eight years: 

(1) The dream comes from outside and remains external (p. 91). 

[An example of this, in questions and answers.] 

Where does a dream come from? — From the night- . . . Where are the 
dreams made?-Out there- . . . What sends them?-The clouds (p. 93). 

(2) The dream arises in us ourselves but is external to us (p. 106). 
[This is exemplified by] Where do dreams come from?— When you are 
asleep, you think someone is beside you. When you see something in the 
day, you dream of it at night. . . . Where is it made?— In the room (p. 108) . 

(3) The dream is internal and of internal origin (p. 117): The dream is 
"when you think of something"— Where is the dream?-In my head.-As 
if there were pictures in your head? . . . —No, you see a picture of what 
you've done earlier (p. 119). 

The attribution of external causality as a consequence of gross 
differentiation and concreteness can be seen in cases other than chil- 
dren and "primitives." For example, the history of medicine and 
"psychiatry" show that the early notions and practices in these areas 
stemmed from the belief that the sickness was due to the entrance of 
some foreign agent, often the representative of the devil, into the body. 
Treatment consisted of removing this alien agent, by bleeding the 
affected person or by "beating the devil" out of him. Many rural 
farmers still practice the bleeding of animals that are sick, and some 
cut the tails off healthy pigs in order to safeguard the pigs' good 
health. Other "medical" practices in remote spots of America include 
wearing beads or some piece of metal around the neck to ward off 
disease. Some people even grease with animal fat the rusty nail on 
which a barefoot boy so often steps — after, not before — he steps on it. 

Among the most invariant and pronounced attribution of external 
causality is the explanation generally offered by the zealot for the 
religiosity and righteousness with which he proclaims and pursues his 
"cause" — irrespective of its content or direction ( Hoffer, 1951 ) . The 
zealot rationalizes that he is but carrying out the will of some master 
strategist, is but acting in accord with an absolute and irrefutable 
truth, is but fulfilling his responsibility to some transcendent force 
"that's bigger than all of us." Thus in his prosecution of Servetus, who 
had dared assail certain of both Catholic and Protestant doctrines, 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 41 

". . . Calvin was fortified by the conviction that he was doing the 
work of God. 'It would be hypocrisy,' he said, 'not to own that the Lord 
has been pleased to employ me' " (Ergang, 1939, p. 202). Little differ- 
ent is the insistence of the avid segregationist that "Certainly our stand 
against integration is a good, Christian stand — for after all, He made 
the different races, didn't He?" ( Quoted in the Denver Post, April 29. 
1960. ) 

In later chapters we show how the attribution of causality relates to 
resolution of incongruous information. The more concrete individuals, 
those who tend more toward attributing the cause of their behavior to 
some outside force, such as "fate," will, for example, be shown to be 
authority oriented and hence to be very susceptible to influence at- 
tempts by authority sources but to be resistant to evaluations of in- 
ferior sources. 

Concreteness Disposes toward 
Catechisms and Word Magic 

The fact that an individual does not differentiate between the ob- 
jective and subjective world has the further result that a name, like 
a dream, wish, or divination, is synonymous with the external reality. 
In the psychological world of the "primitive" and young child "a name 
is in no sense regarded as something imposed wilfully, or as something 
fortuitous, a mere sign. A thing cannot be grasped until its name is 
known. The name not only stands in intimate relation to the thing; 
it is part of the object itself" (Werner, 1957, p. 254). The assignment 
of a name or label to a phenomenon results in attribution of character- 
istics to the phenomenon that accord with the name. This holds to a 
striking degree even among individuals more conceptually differen- 
tiated and integrated (Gibson, 1929; Bartlett, 1932; Carmichael, Hogan 
and Walter, 1932), but is even more true for children and "primitives" 
who ". . . experience names both as things in themselves and as fused 
in the object they denote" (Werner, 1957, p. 255). Malinowski reports 
that the Trobrianders were certain that the pronouncement of the 
word "spider" resulted in a web-like structure in the tayter vine 
(Malinowski, 1935, p. 235). Piaget (1929) has demonstrated in the 
earlier stages of childhood — up to five or six years — the child believes 
that the name is inside or attached to the thing. ". . . During the first 
stage (5-6) the child supposes that we come to know the names simply 
by looking at them. We need only to look at the sun to know it is 
called 'sun'" (p. 68). In line with this, one six-and-one-half-year-old 
remarked, "'If there weren't any words it would be very awkward. 
You couldn't make anything. How could things have been made' (if 



42 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

there hadn't been names for them)?" (Piaget, 1929, p. 62). Even more 
illustrative are the responses of another child concerning the name of 
the Saleve: 

How did it get its name in the beginning? — From a letter. — And where 
did the letter come from? — The name. — And the name? — From the moun- 
tain. — How did the name come from the mountain? — By a letter. — Where 
did the letter come from? — The mountain. — Clouds are called clouds, aren't 
they? Where does the name of the clouds come from? — The name? That 
is the name. — Yes, but where does it come from? — The clouds. — What do 
you mean when you say it comes from the clouds? — It's the name they've 
got. — But how did the name happen? How did it begin? — By itself. — Yes, 
but where did the name come from? — By itself (Piaget, 1929, p. 64). 

The belief that names are essential properties of things is the basis 
of all word magic. All one has to do, in line with this premise, to 
transform the object into whatever he wishes is but to affix to the ob- 
ject the name that embodies the characteristics sought in the object. 
Belief in word magic may reach such proportions that little direct 
aggression is manifested because "putting the curse" on the unfavored 
object or wishing misfortune to befall it is sufficient "to do it in" 
(Hallowell, 1949, Levy-Bruhl, 1923; Werner, 1957). Positive effects 
can be achieved by word magic also, an assumption that underlies the 
practices of shamen and other religious figures in blessing objects 
by the application of standardized words. 

The conditions of undifferentiation and concreteness that give rise 
to word magic result also in the catechismic employment of names 
without appreciation for the full denotative implications of the name. 
Words may be said and names affixed without an understanding of 
what the words mean. Such was the case of the three-and-one-half- 
year-old child who argued adamantly with his father that a man 
dressed as David Crockett, "the King of the Wild Frontier," was not 
Davy Crockett at all "because he doesn't have any front ear." Equally 
illustrative is the description made of his dog by Dennis the Menace 
to a couple of other neighborhood pests. Explained Dennis to his 
enraptured audience of two: "He's part Great Dame, part Irish Set-up, 
and Dad says he's got a lotta puddle in him, too." 1 

Greater Concreteness Tends to Be Accompanied 
by Negativism and Resistance to Suggestion 

It appears that unless suggestion comes from an authority source 
who is symbolic of power and security the more concrete individuals 
are resentful of suggestions. Some individuals, whom we later describe 

1 Copyright by the Hall Syndicate, Inc. Reprinted by special permission. 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 43 

as being at the second stage of concreteness (those who have only a 
modicum of differentiation-integration ) , seem to be negativistic toward 
suggestion from anyone, especially if he represents authority. But 
even the more negativistic individual, if caught up in a sufficiently 
unstructured or unanchored situation, one where he has difficulty in 
orienting himself in time and space, may model his evaluations after 
those of others about him, even hated others (Bettelheim, 1943). In 
one study of social influence under varied conditions of environmental 
structure ( Sherif and Harvey, 1952 ) , subjects in the more unstructured 
condition were more influenced by another's judgment, but at the same 
time they tended to deny that they had been influenced and to express 
resentment toward the presence of the other person. 

It is our belief that the preceding experiment demonstrates one of 
the essential conditions of negativism, namely that the more con- 
cretistically functioning individual who has structured the situation in 
terms of only a very few rigid conceptual alternatives tends to protect 
these unitary and narrowly defined structures through warding off 
and resisting the evaluations of others, even if these are at only slight 
variance from his own. The expression of this is an attempt to ward 
off events that only might render more fragile the unstable orientations 
in time and space: 

. . . Primitive peoples, as a rule, show themselves hostile to everything 
coming from without [avers Levy-Bruhl (1923)], at least unless it be from 
neighbouring tribes like their own, people of the same race, customs and 
institutions, with whom they could live on friendly terms. From the real 
"stranger" they neither borrow nor accept anything. Any changes, even if 
they are undoubted improvements, must be forced upon them (p. 384). 
[He continues,] 

. . . They form, as it were, sealed systems in which every entrant runs the 
risk of setting up a process of decomposition. They are like organisms 
capable of living for a very long time whilst the general environment 
changes but slightly, but which very rapidly degenerate and die when 
invaded by new elements (p. 384) . 

. . . Hence relations that appear to us perfectly natural and harmless, run 
the risk of exposing the group to dangers which are ill-defined and there- 
fore all the more to be dreaded. The slightest intercourse with foreigners, 
the simple fact of receiving food or implements from them, may lead to 
catastrophe. Who knows how this may affect such-and-such an occult 
power, and what may be the result? Hence arise those signs of dread and 
distrust among primitives which the white races often interpret as expressing 
hostility (p. 385). 

Concreteness Disposes Toward Ritualism 

When facing a novel and relevant situation one casts about for some 
sign of familiarity, some psychological landmark or object to which 



44 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

he can relate and from which he can orient himself. [Later we say 
even to define his self.] One expression of this is the ceremonial be- 
havior often preceding one's departure to a "foreign" or strange place. 
This behavior is manifested at various age levels and strata of society, 
but of course, it is most strikingly displayed by persons whose previous 
contacts with the surrounding world have been extremely limited and 
to whom accordingly much of the world is a "booming, buzzing con- 
fusion." Young children and "primitives," then, are very likely to go 
through activities aimed at guaranteeing safety to them when they 
are forced to face the unknown, activities that often take on ritualistic 
characteristics, with prayerful entreaties or some other gesture aimed 
at incurring the protective graces of the mystical omnipotent. 

Familiar and reassuring objects, whether animate or inanimate, fre- 
quently are taken along to ward off the dangers of the unknown. Hence 
in many tribes it was not uncommon that a warrior's dog, horse, and 
other implements of his daily existence — sometimes including his 
spouse — be sacrificed and dispatched to accompany him on his journey 
to the "Happy Hunting Grounds." And as any reader of "Peanuts" 
knows, young "Linuses" generally surround themselves with some 
intimate companion before heading into the unknowns of sleep and 
night — a blanket, or doll, a toy dog, or some other reassuring object 
of endearment. Before they set off for the trip through the night, 
however, many go through repetitive and almost ritualistic activities 
that, owing to their very repetitiveness, help the child to differentiate 
his world further and to gain a modicum of structure and security 
within it. 

. . . These rituals may be so set that any neglect or alternation is felt 
to be a symbol of disruption, of a state of affairs in which "something is 
wrong," and, still later, as an injury to the ego proper. ... A mother 
writes to Sully about her 2:7 year old boy: "After I have kissed him and 
given him my hand I must also kiss his doll, which he calls his 'boy,' and 
which sleeps with him. Then I have to shake the doll's hand, and do the 
same to the four hoofs of a toy horse which lies at the foot of his bed. 
When all this has been done he rises in bed and begs, 'Kiss me again and 
say goodnight just once more.' " 

. . . One child clutched the comer of a pillow in his hand while going 
to sleep. A four-year-old girl held on to a corner of a certain piece of 
cloth. A boy between the age of three and five slept with a handkerchief 
under his cheek. A three-year-old girl had to have her handkerchief hanging 
over the edge of the bed (Werner, 1957, pp. 358-359). 

The child's demand for highly consistent and structured activity 
preceding his going to bed is paralleled by a desire for consistent and 
stable rules from authoritative adults. As Werner (1957) points out: 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 45 

The child's desire to be protected by rules from the clangers of un- 
certainty at least partially explains his attitude toward the commands of 
adults, which are often endowed with an absolute significance. Sully re- 
marks with complete justice that children have a tremendous belief in the 
commands of adults, in the sacredness of rules. "I'm allowed to do this, 
but not that" is not merely the sign of superficial good conduct, but ex- 
presses the child's very need for order and rule (p. 361). 

This may be construed as a further sign of lack of differentiation 
between the self and the external world, a condition that is reflected 
in an attribution of causality to the external agents, forces toward 
which effort is aimed at pleasing and winning protection from the 
threatening world. 

The reflection of a striving to establish and maintain ties with the 
world, the simultaneous resistance to outside influence, and the seek- 
ing of objects of familiarity for reassurance is assumed to occur when 
any relevant situation of sufficient ambiguity is encountered. This is 
so among "primitives," children, adolescents, older people facing the 
necessity of role shifts, or any normal adults facing a problem situation 
that is important to them but one for which their characteristic modes 
of ordering are inadequate. Not only was resentment of other's sug- 
gestions noted in the experiment by Sherif and Harvey (1952), for 
example, but also subjects were observed to try in other ways to 
cling to a landmark of familiarity in highly ambiguous environment 
(a large, totally dark room). Many, in the course of finding, without 
aid, the places at which they were to sit, came into contact with some 
physical referent, such as a post placed by the experimenters to com- 
plicate the environment further and to render it ambiguous. Upon 
finding these points some would refuse to leave them until the ex- 
perimenter made his way to them and guided them toward their 
chairs. Others would radiate out from these points in systematic di- 
rections and distances seeking other objects to aid them in defining 
the environment. They would place their heels against the stable object, 
take a counted number of standardized steps out into the unknown in 
one direction, retrace their steps to the starting point, and then repeat 
the sequence until they were successful in orienting themselves enough 
to make their way to the goal or until they gave up in exasperation. As 
we shall suggest in Chapter 9, behavior very similar to that of the 
above subjects characterizes the obsessive-compulsive individual who, 
presumably owing to the threat connected with moving away from his 
extremely narrow and tenuous beacon of safety, clings tenaciously to 
his current concept of and response toward a given situation. 

It seems to us very probable that the tendencies of the more con- 
cretely functioning individual — to think categorically, to adhere rigidly 



46 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

to rules, to use word magic, to attribute external causality, to be simul- 
taneously resentful and susceptible to influence from others, and to be 
ritualistic — all are expressive of his attempt to hold on to his rather 
tenuous way of ordering the world until he can, through further inter- 
actions with his environment and articulations of it, make available to 
himself a way of ordering that provides a more secure world into which 
to move. It may be that before the individual ever willingly abandons 
any concept or way of relating to the world and unresistingly separates 
himself from an anchorage of even minimum stability, he must first 
come to feel that the new or different way affords him a more adequate 
and secure way of structuring his environment and satisfying his needs. 
Under conditions devoid of choice, however, where the individual has 
no alternative but to relinquish or forego his ties to or desire for an 
object, it is assumed he will try to hold on to those anchorages that will 
minimize negative affect. In trying to "make the best of a bad situation" 
this might mean relinquishing a tie (at least for the time being) to a 
positively valued object, which albeit of importance to him is not as 
central as the combination of other objects that would have to be fore- 
gone were he to choose differently. The basis of this is elaborated in 
the next chapter. 

Generality of the Effects of 
Variation in Abstractness 

Most of the preceding examples of the effects of low levels of ab- 
stractness were in reference to children and "primitives." It should be 
stressed that the examples were just that, and hence the variations in 
abstractness-concreteness are not restricted to the groups mentioned. 
They may be seen, to a somewhat lessened extent it may be true, 
among adults and more "educated" people. In the present view an 
individual may become arrested at any given stage of concreteness- 
abstractness, at least in some of their concepts. Hence an academician 
or "intellectual" might at least in certain of his concepts show clear 
signs of concrete functioning, such as absolutism, external causality 
and oughtness, word magic, and ritualism. 

The history of the development of major ideas demonstrates that 
many "scientists" (seemingly little less than gangland members, ado- 
lescents, primitives, and young children), often make only the most 
rudimentary differentiations and as a consequence react with abso- 
lutism and hostility even to slight departures from what they consider 
to be the irrefutable gospel (Ayers, 1955). 

Word magic of a sort may also be indulged in by scientists, as is 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 47 

shown by the apparent belief by some that to name or label a phe- 
nomenon is equivalent to explaining it. Indeed, a vestige of word magic 
seems to be almost inherent in the structure of the language, if studies 
on the effect of labeling are indicative. That the structure of language, 
the cohesive ingredient of most of man's concepts, acts as an inter- 
vening filter through which the world passes on its way to evaluation 
was recognized almost a century ago by Cassirer (1944), De Laguna 
(1927), and others. The field work of Franz Boaz and his students sug- 
gested that such simple judgments as color discriminations were af- 
fected both qualitatively and quantitatively by the color categories 
existent in a given ethnic language and employed by the judge. Ob- 
servations akin to this one, which have received fairly recent experi- 
mental verification by Brown and Lenneberg (1954), have been 
stressed by semanticists, such as Korzbyski (1951), and metalinguists, 
such as the late Whorf (1956). They are currently receiving further 
empirical and experimental elaboration by anthropologists (Hallowell 
[1949], and Hoijer [1953] ) and by psychologists working in the area of 
psycholinguistics . 

Whether the label has to do with color or more complex dimensions, 
once it is assigned to an object characteristics are subsequently at- 
tributed to the objects that are consonant with the label but which 
may be in complete violation of the object's veridical attributes. In the 
same way that one moves one's evaluation or structuring of an un- 
structured and rumor-ridden environment in the direction of leveling 
and sharpening (Allport and Postman, 1947), one moves similarly in 
the direction of rendering his memory and other cognitive reactions 
toward an object consistent with the label assigned it (Bartlett, 1932; 
Carmichael, Hogan and Walter, 1932; Gibson, 1929). Thus, for ex- 
ample, an ambiguous drawing that is assigned a particular label (such 
as "spectacles") upon initial presentation is subsequently reproduced 
to appear like the object so named should appear, with omissions of 
the features not fitting the label and additions consonant with one's 
need to complete it. 

Tendencies toward overt approach or avoidance of an object parallel 
the characteristics imposed upon it by the label. This is so, even 
though the conceptual premise from which the behavior emanates may 
be undifferentiated and not in accord with objective reality. But verid- 
ical or not, the "real world" to the receiving individual is the world 
that is filtered through his conceptual matrix. It is this world, as dis- 
torted and unreal, as undifferentiated and bifurcated as it may be, 
that the individual conforms to in his own behavior and demands 
similar conformity from others. This is true for "civilized" man as well 



48 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

as for the Ojibwa Indians, for example, who take drastic steps to 
prevent the untrained child from eating or even touching the "kin- 
nebikonin," snakeberries that are erroneously labeled as deadly poi- 
sonous among the tribesmen (Hallowell, 1949). Among the Ojibwa, 
as no doubt it will be among the 1984'ers — the child never has the 
chance to ascertain the true nature of the berries and to correct the 
error of the label. When very young he is prevented from making 
accurate differentiations based on direct experience with the berries, 
and by the time he is no longer physically restrained he has so 
internalized the undifferentiated dicta of his culture that he now 
"knows" the berries are poisonous. He now joins the ranks of the 
seniors who have as one of their main goals in life the revelation of the 
"real truth" to the juniors. 

Such is the history of superstitions, social stereotypes, and many 
academic and religious "truths." They are often propagated and en- 
forced as the gospel, without attempt or permission to check their 
validity. A person who accepts a particular stereotype because of his 
being an identifying member of the social order is unlikely to question 
the stereotype. It has become his own and is a basic aspect of his inter- 
nal standards or schemata so that he perceives confirmations and not 
refutations. It would appear that under such conditions an assumption 
such as that of Vernon — ". . . the more often a schema is utilized, 
the more available it will be, the more adequate and veridical will be 
the perceptions which arise from it, and the more effective the action" 
(1957, p. 336) — will hardly hold true. Instead, once a concept is 
formed and a label is attached to it (generally simultaneous if not 
synonymous activities) one's perceiving, judging, thinking, memory, 
and other activities may be so channeled along seemingly grooved 
routes that stereotypy of cognitive functioning results, rendering one 
unable to make differentiations not encompassed in his limited reper- 
tory of verbal categories. Veridicality may occur with such closedness; 
but it would be more likely not to. 

The success of the Chinese Communists in "brainwashing" American 
Army captives, we believe, represents a dramatic demonstration of the 
woeful vulnerability of persons dependent on catechismic concepts and 
stereotyped labels. What were, for many prisoners, very concretistic 
conceptual svstems broke down when they were forced to face events 
that contradicted these concepts. Belief that America is the best of 
all possible lands, held by many as an undifferentiated concept that 
was little more than a stereotype and a catechism, could be maintained 
only for a limited time in the face of "brainwashing" techniques that 
confronted the captive with points of view with which his often 



NATURE OF CONCEPTS 49 

bifurcated conceptual schemata could not cope. Many of these men 
who knew only that communism was bad and capitalism was good, 
with very few notions of the whys and wherefores, tenaciously resisted 
communism at the outset, but when they began to alter their stand, 
a shockingly large number broke completely loose from their own in- 
flexible moorings. Having no alternatives of their own to fall back on, 
they reanchored themselves to the position advocated by their captors. 
It is probable also that many who were torn from their own stand did 
not reattach themselves to communist dogma. It may be that from 
this latter group of individuals, those who were torn asunder from their 
initial ties but in some way failed to attach themselves to communism, 
came a large proportion of the 38 per cent of American Army captives 
of the Chinese who seemed just to have lain down and died. 

This possibility seems to be in accord with the experimental finding 
that the more authoritarian individuals, although very resistant to 
changing their concepts at lower levels of stress, tend to "go to pieces" 
when they do shift at higher levels of stress, as manifested in loss of 
discrimination between positive and neutral stimuli (Harvey, 1958). 



3 Conceptual Functioning 

and Motivation 



The preceding chapter was devoted to a general characterization 
of concepts, especially how these postulated constructs served as the 
mediating link between the organism and his environing world. It was 
suggested that concepts, in the form of subject-object relations or ties, 
operate as kinds of schemata, as a kind of filtering or metering system 
in terms of which impinging events are differentiated and integrated, N 
indeed through which reality is read by the experiencing agent. The 
degree of concreteness-abstractness of the linkages between the subject 
and object was stressed as a determining characteristic of the way 
events are evaluated and reality is read. 

The present chapter is concerned with the problem of how concepts 
serve as a basis of motivation: through disposing an individual to 
order the world in a particular way and to react in certain ways, both 
at the covert and overt levels, when such standardized ways of order- 
ing are either confirmed or refuted. 

Conceptual Confirmation and 
Refutation Characterized 

One of the basic postulated aspects of a concept is a property we 
term directionality, a course or direction of action toward each and 
every object to which it relates. Such directionality could be expressed 
in many ways: in terms of attractions-repulsions, in terms of negative- 
positive valences, in terms of approach-avoidance, or in terms of 
positive and negative evaluations. Directionality, therefore, implies 
a preference for an outcome, striving, or predilection toward either 
approaching or avoiding the object to which the activated concept 
relates. Whether approach or avoidance tendencies are generated by 
the conceptually relevant object depends, presumably, on the per- 
ceived instrumentality of the object, whether it is evaluated as con- 
gruent or incongruent with motive satisfaction or goal attainment 
(Rosenberg, 1956). 

50 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 51 

The directionality of a concept, which varies in its definitiveness 
and strength, provides the basis of both conceptual confirmation and 
refutation. Conceptual confirmation is the state resulting from the 
perception or evaluation of an impinging event as being compatible 
with or facilitative of the response directionality associated with the 
concept(s) operative at the particular time. Conceptual refutation, 
on the other hand, is the condition occurring when an impinging event 
is evaluated as conflicting with or being incompatible with the be- 
havioral directionality implicit in existing concepts or subject-object 
relations. The better defined the directionality of a concept and the 
greater its strength or preference of outcome, the more pronounced 
are the behavioral and affective consequences of confirmation or 
refutation. 

Special note should be taken of certain aspects of the preceding 
characterizations. First, confirmation and refutation are viewed as 
phenomenological constructs, psychological states that are dependent 
upon the evaluation of the situation by the receiving individual or 
observer. Thus these terms do not refer directly to physical properties 
of external stimulus events. It should be stressed, nonetheless, that we 
do not mean to imply that such physical properties of the stimulus 
impingements are unrelated to their evaluation as either confirming or 
refuting. Indeed as we have maintained previously and shall stress 
subsequently, all cognitive activity, including perception or evaluation, 
is jointly determined by the dispositional and situational factors op- 
erative at the given moment. Our use of these constructs as phenomeno- 
logical rather than stimulus properties stems from the simple fact 
that a one-to-one correspondence fails to exist between properties of 
stimuli and the experience of them. 

Note should be taken, secondly, of our use of the term "perception" 
or "evaluation" in the above definition. By these terms we simply mean 
to imply that the individual "senses" or at some level of awareness 
discriminates the impinging event as being either similar or dissimilar 
in varying degrees to his existing mode of interpretation of it. Although 
a relevant question, we do not attempt to offer criteria aimed at dis- 
tinguishing between the discrimination processes at the varying levels 
of awareness, such as conscious-unconscious or subception-perception. 
We are referring only to the process in which the individual is sensitized 
toward, differentiates an impinging event, and places it psychologically 
into some sort of relationship to his existing conceptual standards by 
evaluating it as being in some degree either compatible or incompatible 
with them. And such an act of relating can occur at varying levels of 
articulateness or subject awareness. 



52 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

The motivational consequences of conceptual confirmation and 
refutation parallel, in fact are probably synonymous, respectively, with 
goal facilitation and impediment since the directionality of a concept 
represents a goal orientation of approach or avoidance toward the 
motive- or concept-relevant object. 

At the more concrete level of functioning, such as that of children 
and infrahuman species, goal blocking and facilitation would more 
likely relate to some external object, animate or inanimate. At the more 
abstract level of functioning goal blocking and facilitation, instead of 
being restricted to the effects of concrete physical objects or features 
of the environment, could as' well, and probably more frequently do, 
stem from conceptual refutation and confirmation, such as verbal re- 
proof and reward from sources of significance in the eyes of the subject. 

Concept confirmation and refutation may occur in relation to either 
approach or avoidance tendencies. If the direction of the goal orienta- 
tion of a concept is approach, then confirmation would result from the 
situation being evaluated as favoring increased proximity to the goal 
object. If the directionality were avoidant, then confirmation would 
result from interpreting the situation as contributive toward increasing 
the distance from the negative object. Refutation, of course, would be 
the consequence of a contradiction of the directional striving by the 
situation. For example, consider the concept: Alcoholic beverages 
should not be used under any circumstance. Confirmation of this 
concept would occur from interpretation of events as being consonant 
with avoidance of alcohol. Conceptual refutation, on the other hand, 
would result from evaluating an event as favoring the use, for any 
reason, of alcohol. 

Some Necessary Conditions for 
Confirmation and Refutation 

Out of the totality of events impinging at a particular point in time, 
not all of the myriad of possibilities are of behavioral relevance to the 
individual at that moment. For a stimulus to be relevant it must relate 
to the operative concepts or other motives of the individual in either 
an impeding or facilitative way. 

Even further, out of the mass of stimuli that have potential relevance 
to the subject so far as their objective properties are concerned, only 
a small fraction of these probably are so perceived or recognized by 
the individual. Stimulus relevance often exists only as a potential, its 
particular fruition or realization hinging upon the presence of the 
object at the appropriate moment, upon a particular interaction, a 
particular wedding of it with existant concepts that lie dormant until 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 53 

they are triggered off by a certain stimulus or range of stimuli. This 
kind of interdependence, to which we alluded in the preceding chapter, 
is summarized aptly by Cantril and Bumstead ( 1960 ) : 

These registered effects of the past are in a sense carried with a person 
all the time — but in potential form. It is inconceivable that all of the 
registered effects of the past should be relevant to a present, concrete trans- 
action. If, for example, a person has, as we say, an anti-class X prejudice, 
this prejudice is operative only when some member of class X or some 
symbol of class X exists in awareness for the prejudiced individual. Where 
is the prejudice when it is not present? It is absent, non-existent but 
potential. It is not then what we have called an "essential factor," because 
it apparently does not participate in and therefore makes no difference in 
the transaction we are studying at the moment. Yet it is available if and 
when an appropriate occasion is encountered and its potential significance 
is relevant (Cantril and Bumstead, 1960, p. 104). 

For an event to be reacted to as either confirming or refuting, the 
condition of relevance, at some level of subject awareness, must have 
been satisfied. And, if we might relate this to an old question of the 
learning theorist, the mere physical presence of an object and/or 
the frequency of its proximity are not sufficient. They may be necessary 
conditions, however, to result in the indispensable interlocking of the 
particular stimulus with the particular concept(s) or other contingent 
predispositions operating at the appropriate moment. 

The fact that an event objectively is discrepant from a concept on 
some dimension and in some direction does not mean that such a 
discrepancy will be taken by the subject as representing either confir- 
mation or refutation of a particular concept. Such lack of correspond- 
ence between variations in the stimulus and accompanying effects, 
overt and covert, may be due to a host of conditions. For example, the 
discrepancy might be so great between the subject's concept and the 
impinging stimulus that the event (another's evaluation, say) would 
be interpreted as irrelevant to the issue at hand. Such conceptual dis- 
continuities have been noted in several studies, where the discrepant 
events have been both the evaluations of another person (Asch, 1952) 
and inanimate psychophysical anchors (Rogers, 1941). 

An individual, instead of noting the discrepancy and interpreting 
it as irrelevant to his own concept, may actually fail to note the concept- 
event incongruity and, at least so far as measured effects reveal, to act 
as if no discrepancy existed. Such ways of behaving were found to 
occur in prejudiced subjects who failed to get the point of the Mr. 
Biggot cartoons (Cooper and Jahoda, 1947), as well as more author- 
itarian individuals who failed to "receive" the negativity of informa- 
tion to which they were exposed (Harvey and Beverly, 1959). Such 



54 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

"selective inattention" could probably be treated as expressive of the 
same kind of functioning that underlies "perceptual defense," what- 
ever this process ultimately may prove to be. The many intricacies and 
complexities relating to this problem, both in terms of measurement 
and theoretical interpretation, need not, however, detain us on this 
point. 

An individual might perceive an event as being both discrepant from 
and congruent with his concept and still not manifest the kinds of 
behavior that we present shortly as tending to result from conceptual 
confirmation or refutation. Such a person might react by declaring, 
"You see it one way, and I see it another." Such a response probably 
would come only from persons functioning at a more abstract level, 
in terms of ways of ordering that not only allow for but also may 
even demand that alternate interpretations are possible. Assume that 
such an individual whose view of reality argues for multiple alterna- 
tives is informed that X, as he thought it, was not X at all, but was Y. 
He could change this concept of the object he had labeled "X" with 
very little resistance and with little or no affect. He might even feel 
good because to change could be confirming other of his concepts, 
such as his view that reality is open to multiple interpretations. This 
and other possibilities of simultaneous confirmation and refutation of 
different concepts, or even possibly of the same concept in a case of 
ambivalence, will be faced again later when we enter the discussion 
of the multidimensionality of an individual's conceptual system. 

Some General Reactions 

to Confirmation and Refutation 

We have characterized confirmation and refutation respectively as 
the evaluation of a stimulus event as compatible or incompatible with 
the directionality or volitional aspect of a concept or motive. Let us 
turn now to a brief consideration of some of the effects of such psycho- 
logical states. We are not attempting, nor is it our desire, to present a 
lengthy compendium of specific or more phenotypic responses to con- 
firmation and refutation. The actual frequency of these is as numerous 
as are the levels of analysis and their representative measures that 
one chooses to employ in representing the effects. Accordingly, we 
are restricting our depiction to more genotypic outcomes rather than 
concerning ourselves with an endless listing of more phenotypic possi- 
bilities. We underscore more genotypic because there is no such 
thing as a pure or fixed genotype or phenotype. As in Aristotle's form 
and matter (with which genotypes and phenotypes are respectively 
synonymous ) , what is a genotype to the "lower" levels it embodies is 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 55 

in turn a phenotype when its own membership character within a more 
comprehensive organization of relationships is considered. 

The more generic outcomes of confirmation and refutation with 
which we primarily concern ourselves are (1) affective arousal and 
(2) certain behavioral manifestations, which we term behavioral 
resolutions, ways in which the generated predispositions are expressed. 
Such outcomes are not assumed to be independent; thev are taken to 
be expressive of a common denominator. 

AFFECTIVE AROUSAL 

One of the most psychologically significant consequences of confirma- 
tion or refutation is the quality and intensity of the affect generated 
by such an evaluation. It may, in fact, prove to be that the affect gen- 
erated by the arousal of a concept or a more biogenic motive acts as 
"the outstanding kernel of the whole experience" (Koffka, 1922) and 
serves as a kind of spearhead that other of the effects tend to follow or 
with which thev tend to be consonant. It is not necessary, however, to 
treat affect as "cause" to demonstrate its inextricable relationship to 
the volitional directionalitv. Conceptual confirmation tends to generate 
positive affect whereas refutation or violation of goal directionality 
tends to be accompanied bv negative affect. When the coin is reversed 
and affect is viewed as cause instead of effect, approach tendencies are 
noted to occur toward objects related to positive affect while avoidance 
tends to result toward objects of negative valence. 

Let us, at the expense of redundancy, stress a point that is significant 
to our position, a point which differentiates our theoretical stand from 
some quite similar to it. The "zero point," "adaptation level" (Helson, 
1947), or baseline from which the effects of a discrepant stimulus are 
to be gauged is the behavioral directionalitv. including its strength, 
implicit in a concept or any motivational predisposition. To establish 
this means, in some cases, no more than ascertaining the extent to 
which the event was evaluated as deviating from expectancy, "ex- 
pectancy" being the referent point that some writers (for example. 
McClelland et al., 1953) consider the appropriate zero point for 
calculating effects of stimulus discrepancies. It is probable, as other 
writers have also proposed (Rotter, 1954; Atkinson and Reitman, 1956^. 
that expectancy is an appropriate baseline only if it implies a wish, 
predilection, or preference toward a particular outcome or a directional 
striving toward some portending occurrence. If expectancy is so defined 
as to strip from it the property 7 of directionality and predilection, then 
its appropriateness as the baseline for gauging effects of stimulus in- 
congruities, in either direction, is rendered nil. This may be illustrated 



56 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

by one of the examples used in the earlier development of their theory 
by McClelland and his associates who at that time viewed affect to be 
". . . the innate result of certain discrepancies between expectations 
and perception" (1953, pp. 67-68). 

. . . Take flunking out of school, for example. One might argue that if 
the student half expected it, he should feel pleasure since his expectation is 
confirmed. Although it is true that he may get some fleeting satisfaction from 
having predicted correctly, this is more than outweighed by the non- 
confirmation of other expectations built up over his whole life history such 
as doing a good job, being a professional man, etc. (1953, p. 66). 

Even if the individual in this example expected to the point of 
certainty that he was going to flunk out of school, no prediction as to 
the likely effect from confirmation of expectancy alone could be made 
without considering this in relation to the preference of the student. 
If he were motivated strongly to stay in school, the greater the error 
in his prediction the greater would be the positive affect because, al- 
though negating his expectancy, it would confirm the volitional direc- 
tionality of his motive, his desire to stay in school. On the other hand, 
the less is the error in his prediction that he would flunk out of school, 
that is, the smaller the expectancy-event discrepancy, the greater 
would be the negative affect, due to a refutation of the striving to stay 
in school. Only for those students trying to flunk out of school would a 
confirmation of a parallel expectancy represent at the same time a con- 
firmation of the directionality of the motive. 

Thus the corroboration or negation of an expectancy in whatever 
degree, unless it is made to include directional striving, is itself a 
poor predictor of affective arousal. Effects of deviations from ex- 
pectancies must be viewed against the backdrop of the goal orienta- 
tion, approach or avoidance, of the individual under scrutiny. Com- 
plete violation of expectancy may result in positive affect if such 
violation were at the same time confirming the directionality of the 
concept(s) or motive. Verification of an expectancy, on the other hand, 
even if not to the point of a zero discrepancy between the expectancy 
and concept, a condition McClelland et al. (1953) postulate as result- 
ing in boredom, will result in negative affect if such corroboration is 
in contradistinction to a striving or goal orientation of the individual. 

If expectancy is endowed with a behavioral predilection or prefer- 
ence of outcome (Rotter, 1954; Atkinson and Reitman, 1956), the 
effects of its negation or confirmation follow the same principles as 
confirmation or refutation of other concepts. The particular outcome 
would have to be analyzed in a kind of cost and credit fashion in 
relation to the totality of concepts triggered off by an occurrence, some 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 57 

of which could be confirmed whereas others were simultaneously 
refuted with the attendant consequences of concomitant negative and 
positive affect. 

Let us, as a last example, use the case borrowed by McClelland 
et al. (1953) from Hebb. These authors tend to feel that if a reader 
of a detective story, for example, is able to predict with complete ac- 
curacy the outcome of a plot, boredom and negative affect should 
occur since an assumed necessary condition for positive affect and 
avoidance of boredom is some discrepancy greater than zero but not 
in excess of some optimal range. The extent to which prediction or 
expectancy is supported is meaningless per se, we are suggesting, unless 
something is also known about the directionality of the reader to 
preference. A person who wanted the storv to come out in just one 
way would feel positive and not negative affect from complete confirma- 
tion of expectancy if the expectancy was also consonant with his want. 
A person who would prefer novelty would probablv experience bore- 
dom and negative affect from the same degree of expectancy corrobora- 
tion. 

The "butterflv curve" postulated bv McClelland et al. (1953), show- 
ing that maximum positive affect is achieved bv the stimulus dis- 
crepancy that is neither too small nor too large, is inapplicable to the 
present view of affective consequences of conceptual confirmation and 
refutation. Although consequences of deviations from expectancies may 
follow a curvilinear function, affective arousal generated by refutation 
of a volitional directionality should follow a linear function. That is, 
the more a goal is perceived as being blocked, the greater is the at- 
tendant negative affect (up to the ceiling of complete blocking). 
Departure, if anv, from a linear function should be toward an ac- 
celerated increase of negative affect with increased refutation. The 
same principle, with different affect, should obtain for conceptual 
confirmation or perceived goal facilitation. 

One of the main concerns of this book is the extent to which indi- 
viduals vary in their desire for or seeking after novelty or something 
other than a complete verification of their expectancy. Individuals who 
vary on the dimension of concreteness-abstractness later will be seen 
to vary on the extent to which thev seek differences versus homogeneity 
or expectancy corroboration. For example, the more concrete individ- 
ual, the one who feels that only one concept of reality or a phenomenon 
can be right, can tolerate almost no discrepancy before his concept 
is refuted and negative affect is aroused. The more abstract person 
who, on the other hand, believes that a situation should be interpreted 
in manv, but equally correct, wavs would have his concept refuted by 



58 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

the situation or person that argues for lack of alternatives. Thus the 
same event might be evaluated and experienced in an affectively op- 
posite manner by these two persons. The one who could tolerate only 
small differences would experience conceptual confirmation and pos- 
itive affect if the deviation of the stimulus were small, whereas the 
person who could not tolerate homogeneity would experience negative 
affect and conceptual refutation. Much of the present book is in 
one way or another related to this point. 

BEHAVIORAL RESOLUTIONS 

Not only is a state of affect assumed to be generated by conceptual 
confirmation and refutation but also, as we suggested earlier, consonant 
behavioral predilections are assumed to accompany such affect, con- 
sequences both triggered off by the same event. 

As we sketch in a later part of this chapter and stress in later chap- 
ters, what is confirming or refuting, hence the cognitive and behavioral 
outcomes, depends on the particular organizational properties of the 
constellation or system of concepts involved. These characteristics 
stem to a great extent from the different conditions surrounding the 
history of conceptual development (Chapters 4 and 5). Owing to 
variation in organizational aspects of the underlying concepts, an 
event that would be confirming of one set or system of concepts could 
be refuting of another system with a different structural make-up. 

Either approach or avoidance tendencies may be expressed at the 
overt (motor) or covert (symbolic) level. We would define approach 
as the tendency to minimize and avoidance as the tendency to max- 
imize the psychological distance between one's concept(s) and a 
source, the object (person, place, or thing) perceived as the agent of 
refutation or confirmation. 

Both approach and avoidance, it would appear further, may be 
carried out in either of two ways, ways that elsewhere have been 
labeled respectively as assimilation and contrast (Harvey and Cald- 
well, 1959). Approach, the minimization of psychological distance, may 
occur in a communication situation by the subject's either changing 
his concept and moving toward the evaluation of the source or by dis- 
torting the source's stand so that he renders it more similar to his 
own. Avoidance, in the same type of situation, could occur by the 
subject distorting the stand of the source away from his own concept 
or by changing his concept in the direction opposite to that recom- 
mended by the source ( boomerang ) . 

There are countless more specific phenotypic means by which the 
minimization and maximization of psychological distance may be ex- 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 59 

pressed, depending on organizational properties of the system of con- 
cepts involved. The various resolutions that we present in Chapter 7 
represent one classification of the means by which a given directionalitv 
of approach or avoidance can be maintained or enhanced. Given the 
situation where a good friend, for instance, violates a positive concept 
of the subject toward some other object, among the many ways such 
an incompatibility may be resolved is, for example, through the tech- 
nique we, in Chapter 7, refer to as "neutralization." 

Through this vehicle the subject seeks to maintain his approach 
tendencies toward both the friend and toward the other object by such 
behaviors as making excuses for the friend, transforming the friend's 
behavior to the point where no contradiction exists, namely, main- 
taining that the friend was not serious, that the friend was for some 
reason not responsible, and so forth. The resolution process of neutral- 
ization, as well as many of the others, may also be employed to maintain 
or enhance the directionality of avoidance. Reverse the above situation 
by having a disliked person make a positive evaluation of an object 
toward which a person felt positive!}'. Depending on the strength of 
the negativity, and so forth, the subject could maintain or maximize 
his distance from the source by attributing negative characteristics to 
him, by believing he was insincere, untrustworthy, and the like. 

The point is that the mechanisms of resolution can be viewed in 
terms of approach or avoidance, depending respectively on whether 
the process is engaged to maintain or increase a psychological close- 
ness or to maintain or increase a psychological farness. It may appear 
that we are stretching the terms of approach and avoidance to the 
point of meaninglessness. In so doing, however, we are but trying to 
focus attention on our basic assumption that the behavioral expression 
of motive arousal, the way such tendencies are resolved, follows the 
pattern felt by the subject as furthering or maintaining the direction- 
ality of greater strength toward the object of greater relevance to him. 
In order to lessen redundancy, we shall speak of the various ways of 
maintaining the approach or avoidant inclinations as maintenance or 
resolution processes, the assumption always being that such behaviors 
are but more phenotypic representatives of the more generic tendencies 
of minimization or maximization of psychological distance. 

The examples given above of the ways in which response predis- 
positions may be expressed are reflective of a fairly highly abstract or 
symbolic level of functioning. At the more concrete level, such as that 
of the young child, for instance, the approach and avoidance tendencies 
tend to be expressed more overtly, more at the motor level: by walking 
toward the positive object, having tactual contact with it, putting it in 



60 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

its mouth (if an inanimate object or sometimes even if an animate 
object) if the tendency is approach; by running away from or attack- 
ing it if the tendency is avoidant. The same directional inclinations are 
expressed more abstractlv by attributing positive characteristics to 
the source, by changing one's concept toward him, and by transform- 
ing his behavior in a positive direction, if the source is positive, and 
by doing the reverse toward the object perceived as the causal agent 
of negative affect. The implications of this for concept or attitude 
change and interpersonal relations will be presented in Chapters 7 
and 8. 

Multiple Concepts Are Generally Involved 
in Confinnation and Refutation 

It is probably rare that a single concept of a single dimension is 
triggered off by a relevant stimulus impingement, despite the sim- 
plicity of our presentation up to this point. More probable is the 
simultaneous engagement of more than one concept, which gives rise 
to the possibilitv of contemporaneous confirmation and refutation 
concomitantly with both approach and avoidance tendencies and 
positive and negative affect. 

All of the aroused affective and response predispositions may be 
sufficiently similar so that they conjoin to point to a single course of 
feeling and action. In such a hypothetical instance no conflict would 
occur since no competing tendencies were operative at the same time. 
Where all the concepts engaged did not in their resulting, disposing 
effects direct toward a common action, however, conflict could be the 
result. The magnitude of the conflict would, we think, be dependent 
upon: (1) the number of concepts in competition, (2) the relative 
strength (which later we term centrality-peripherality ) of each, and 
(3) the degree of incompatibility among them, which could vary from 
similarity through orthogonality to dissimilarity in their directionalities. 

Conflict would be greatest under those conditions where the com- 
peting response tendencies were of high and equal strength, a con- 
dition that presumably could occur from the simultaneous engage- 
ment of several contradictory response tendencies of lower strengths, 
or from the arousal of fewer competing concepts of greater centrality. 
The assumption here is based on a notion of "pooling," that is, the 
strength of a predisposition in any direction is a function of the number 
of concepts pointing in that direction and, in some multiplicative man- 
ner, by their respective strengths. Thus a given strength of a response 
tendency presumably could be obtained by increasing either the 
frequency of the concepts involved and/or their centrality. 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 61 

The occurrence of conflict need not result only from the concurrent 
arousal of approach and avoidant tendencies. Approach-approach or 
avoidant-avoidant conflict may also be generated by the arousal of 
the appropriate sets of concepts. 

One way we have found meaningful to view conflict is in terms of 
the model of a fulcrum. As suggested above, intensity of the conflict 
increases as the weight or strengths on both sides of the fulcrum in- 
crease and approach equality or a balance. Conflict is reduced by un- 
balancing the fulcrum, which can be achieved by either increasing 
the weight on one side and/or decreasing it on the other. The specific 
ways in which conflict mav be resolved are, of course, numerous. As 
Kellv points out: 

Different constructs sometime lead to incompatible predictions, as every- 
one who has experienced personal conflict is painfully aware. Man, there- 
fore, finds it necessary to develop ways of anticipating events which tran- 
scend contradictions. Not only do men differ in their constructions of 
events, but they also differ in the ways they organize their constructions 
of events. . . . The same man may resolve in one way at one time and in 
the other way at another. It all depends upon how he backs off to get 
perspective (Kelly, 1955, p. 56). 

It is our assumption that in conflict the individual behaves in a way 
to maximize positive affect. This would mean in a situation of conflict, 
to act in the way expected to minimize cost and to enhance credit, 
a way that if successful would yield the greatest net positive affect. 
Where one were forced to make a choice, this would result in choosing 
objects of greater positive valence and attempting to maintain the 
directionality toward them. Given a situation where the conflict was 
between a concept highly positive toward one object and only 
moderately so toward the other, the conflict would be resolved in 
favor of the more positive object (Osgood and Tannenbaum, 1955; 
Harvey and Caldwell, 1959). If, however, one very positive object 
were pitted against several less positive ones, it could happen that 
the total value of the combined objects would be greater than that 
of the single object, and the individual would behave in a way to favor 
the combination. This notion is akin to Bentham's "fehcific calculus," 
the idea that each act is preceded by the culculation of anticipated 
pain and anticipated pleasure. If the latter is greater than the former, 
the act will be carried out; otherwise it will not. Although not implying 
the rationality of the calculation attributed by Bentham, we are coming 
very close to features of his position by agreeing, in the condition 
where multiple concepts are operative and conflict ensues, that one 
behaves in the way aimed at attaining the highest possible net positive 



62 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

affect. This position, in one variety or another, which implies an 
ascertainment of "costs" and "credits," finds current expression in 
several writings (for example, McClelland et al., 1953; Thibaut and 
Kelley, 1959). 

The notion that in any resolution of a situation there is some degree 
of cost and credit implies the simultaneous operation of more than one 
response or evaluative alternative in some degree of perceived in- 
compatibility with other possibilities. From the vantage point of this 
book, this means the simultaneous engagement of multiple concepts, 
some of the consequences of which are considered within a relational 
or systemic framework we term the self. 



Concepts and the Self-System 

Self Is Synonymous with the Totality of Concepts 

The totality of one's concepts, of one's subject-object relationships, 
in their intertwined interdependencies are viewed as constituting a 
system, a system we label "self." 

The simplest concept is one involving two points on a single dimen- 
sion, and the most complex concept is one embodying an infinity of 
points on an infinity of dimensions. Thus in one sense the self could be 
viewed as one very complex, hierarchic, concept into which simpler 
concepts pour or converge in a stream-like fashion. Or it could be 
viewed as comprising an open-ended number of less inclusive concepts 
that, in their myriad of interdependencies and interlinkings, operate 
as one larger system or as a series of smaller systems or subsystems. 

We at this point term the organized totality of one's concepts as 
a system, and later we treat constellations of more highly interrelated 
concepts within this more inclusive set of relationships as subsystems 
(of the self). 

There is no necessary reason why the totality of concepts should 
be termed "self." Such a matrix of relationships could simply be re- 
ferred to as concepts, or even as X, Y, or Z. Our reason for the label 
"self" is twofold. First, it is our desire to call attention to the motiva- 
tional and affective significance of one's way of relating and tying to 
the world. The treatment of concepts, moreover, has tended historically 
to be in the fashion of classical conditioning and a progressive linking 
of smaller and simpler elements into more complex concepts, and we 
wish not to have our treatment of concepts equated with this atomistic 
approach. The second reason for the term "self" to encompass the con- 
cepts is that this term has been used historically to refer to many of 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 63 

the motivational relevancies that we emphasize (for example, James, 
1890; Cooley, 1912; Sherif and Cantril, 1947). 

The self, as we employ the term, refers to the network of subject- 
object relationships that provides the individual with ties to the 
world and moorings for his orientation in time and space ( Sherif and 
Cantril, 1947; Werner, 1957). It is on the basis of this web of con- 
ceptual ties that one's psychological being exists and without which 
man as uniquely man could hardly be. Indeed it is possible, as we shall 
try to demonstrate later, that the complete severance of one's subject- 
object relationships or prevention of their evolvement may drastically 
impair or even destroy one's being both as a psychological entity and 
as a living organism. 

Some General Properties of the Self-System 

INTERDEPENDENCE OF PARTS 

Perhaps the most essential, or at least most salient, characteristic of 
a system — organic or inorganic, from ameba to man — is an interde- 
pendence of the operative components. It is because we desire to 
emphasize the interdependent operation of concepts that we treat the 
concatenation of subject-object relationships that we have termed the 
self in a systemic way; it is not because we are interested in systems 
per se. 

If a concept never operates in complete isolation from others, this 
implies a degree of interrelatedness that gives rise to the potential of 
one subject-object relationship being affected by its interdependency. 
direct or indirect, with others. To the extent that concepts are inter- 
related, to that degree their functioning may be affected by their 
membership character or embeddedness in the more inclusive system 
of concepts operative at a particular time. As Murphy, who uses 
the construct "organization'' with the same meaning we are giving 
to "system" says: 

. . . Organization involves, first of all the transmission of energy from one 
region to another; second, the simultaneous passage of energies in various 
directions in an interdependent fashion as described above; third, the 
consequent adjustment of one part to another, ... of which homeostasis 
or the maintenance of constancy is one aspect .... organization embraces 
the entire organism-environment relation, of which the organism is the 
nodal but not the complete functioning system (1947, pp. 39—10). 

It should be kept in mind that the construct "system" is itself a 
relative one. The whole universe could, in Aristotelian reasoning, be 
viewed as constituting one vast system since each of its parts is related 



64 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

in either an ascending (matter) or descending (form) way. A human 
being, according to Aristotle's position, would be form to all its sub- 
parts. Yet the same person would be matter when compared to all of 
mankind since he would now represent only a subfacet of the larger, 
more comprehensive totality. 

Therefore, with the possible exclusion of physical and mechanical 
systems made by man, a system is not fixed. The most important aspect 
of a system is a constellation of interrelationships. Thus any phe- 
nomenon at any level can be treated in a systemic way as long as it is 
not viewed as constituted by a fixed entity but as comprised of a 
matrix of relationships that both embodies and reciprocally is em- 
bodied by other sets of relationships. This form and matter view of 
a system does not imply, of course, that all of the possible relationships 
within a system contribute an equal weight. Indeed, it is possible that 
one factor relates so weakly to others that for all practical purposes 
its contribution could be omitted from consideration. 

The extent of interrelationship required in order for the operation of 
the various factors to be considered a system is, of course, arbitrary. 
Presumably the investigator could specify any degree of interrelated- 
ness he chose; he could even dictate what specific variables must be 
interrelated at a criterion level before he would label the relationships 
as a system. He could postulate criterion levels of the relationship of 
one concept to others before it is included in the same constellation or 
subsystem with them. We, however, do not attempt to do this. Instead 
we leave as an open question such criteria and suggest that perhaps a 
more relevant question would be the extent to which concepts are 
interrelated under varying conditions. 

CAPACITY TO EVALUATE THE SITUATION 

Every system that is not completely closed is in some way and to 
some degree sensitive to a certain range of events or relevant stimuli. 
Coupled with this sensitivity as an inseparable activity is the capacity 
to evaluate the relevant stimuli as either in line with or deviant from 
the goal directedness or function of the system. The stimuli that have 
relevance for any system, the objects to which it may become sensitized, 
are determined by the function and structure of the system. One weap- 
ons system whose function it is to destroy certain kinds of missiles 
might be sensitive only to missiles that give off radio signals, a 
second only to missiles that give off intense heat, and others only to 
missiles that give off some other specific cues. Furthermore, the same 
objects or cues might be reacted to differently by different systems. We 
later show in detail how variations in the organization and structure 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 65 

of the subsystems of the self give rise to differential detection and 
evaluation of different and of similar stimuli. 

Sensitization of a system is assumed to be the immediate precursor 
to evaluation of and response to the situation. The selectivity in 
sensitization presumably reflects a lower threshold to the reception or 
detection of the presence of a particular stimulus object or class of 
objects. This heightened sensitivity and lowered threshold may be 
manifested in either or all of three ways : ( 1 ) a detection of a particular 
stimulus object at a lower level of stimulus intensity; or (2) a greater 
or more intense arousal of the conceptual system at a constant level 
of stimulus intensity; and (3) a greater determination of a response 
by one dimension rather than another when competing stimulus 
dimensions are presented. In all of them, the relationship between the 
response "output" to the magnitude of the stimulus "input" is higher 
for the more sensitized than the less sensitized system. In any case, 
the receiving organism becomes attuned toward particular stimuli 
on which his attention is more focused and which stand out more 
saliently, or as figure, against the background of other less relevant 
stimuli impinging at that time. 

Stimulus figure or salience may result from either of two general 
conditions : from a greater intensitv of one relevant stimulus in relation 
to other stimuli; or from increased motivational arousal with stimulus 
intensity constant. Sensitization and threshold thus are characteristics 
of a receiving svstem and not of the impinging stimuli. At the same 
time, it is only from responses to controlled stimuli that sensitization 
can be inferred. 

CAPACITY TO MAKE RESPONSE 
CONSONANT WITH EVALUATION 

A third characteristic of a successfully operating system is the ability 
to respond "appropriatelv" to the situation following evaluation of it. 
If an individual detects and evaluates a situation as being dangerous, 
for example, it is of little avail if he does not also have some capacity 
to respond consonantly, either by flight or fight for instance, to such 
a situation. 

We assume that the individual's reaction to a situation is in keeping 
with his calculation of the best route to maximum avoidance of nega- 
tive affect or to facilitation of positive affect. In a situation where 
conflicting concepts within the self-system are simultaneously triggered 
off, positive affect is maximized, "the best is made of the situation,' 
by responding in a way that favors the concept(s) of greater impor- 
tance or centralitv in the self-svstem. 



66 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

How such "felicific calculus" is expressed under varied conditions 
is treated further following a consideration of the function and struc- 

o 

ture of the conceptual systems. All three of the preceding systemic 
characteristics, interdependence, sensitization, and response, are largely 
determined by the function and structure of the subject-object relation- 
ships. Let us turn now to a sketching of the function of a conceptual 
system and its effects. 

Function of the Conceptual System 

Evolvement and Maintenance of Self 

We have already expressed the assumption that one's web of con- 
cepts supplies him with linkages to the environing world, ties through 
which reality is read and through which one defines one's being in 
space and time. In the sense that concepts provide one with such ties, 
the totality of which we termed the self, it could be said that one 
function of concepts is the evolvement and maintenance of the self. 

Care must be exercised in attributing a function or an aim to a 
system of concepts lest we become guilty of a circularity as unbeatable 
as that of Voltaire's Master Pangloss: 

Master Pangloss . . . could prove to admiration that there is no effect 
without a cause, and in this best of all possible worlds the baron's castle 
was the most magnificent of all castles, and my lady the best of all possible 
baronesses. 

"It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise than they 
are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily 
be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for 
spectacles; therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for 
stockings; accordingly we wear stockings. Stones were made to be hewn 
and to construct castles; therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for the 
greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Swine were 
intended to be eaten; therefore we eat pork all the year round. And they 
who assert that everything is right, do not express themselves correctly; 
they should say that everything is best" (Voltaire, 1759, p. 2). 

By function we mean a state or end product toward which an ex- 
istent set of factors or contingencies conduce. This condition would 
be altered if the underlying relationships that served as its foundation 
were modified too markedly. The function of a family is served by 
marriage in interaction with the other necessary supportive activities. 
Note that we are implying neither fixity nor oughtness to such a 
function as a family, nor to functions of concepts. In the fashion sug- 
gested by the relationship of form to matter, or genotype to pheno- 
type, the family itself may be viewed as matter, as an underlying facet 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 67 

or subpart of a larger set of relationships or of a more inclusive end 
product, say of a society. 

Function then represents a kind of genotype, a superordinate state 
based upon its inclusion of interdependent subparts or phenotvpes. 
For example, a river represents such an outgrowth. So one could say 
in this sense that one function served by a tributary is to feed the 
river, a function served by a river is to feed the more inclusive body 
of water, and so forth, up the ladder of making each level part of 
a more comprehensive level. There are various levels of function, 
therefore, function being the state ( form ) toward which other subf acets 
(matter) are seen as converging or contributing. 

Hence there are any number of functions that we could attribute to 
conceptual svstems. The one we are concerned with primarily, how- 
ever, is that of evolvement and maintenance of the self with self defined 
as the intertwined totality of one's concepts or subject-object relations. 
Hence some kind of differentiation and relating to one's environing 
world is necessary for the self to come into existence. Every concept 
and every differentiation and consequent patterning in one's life 
history enters into the total matrix constituting his self. The self at any 
given time is represented by the concepts existent at that time, ir- 
respective of their complexity or object referents. Not all concepts 
contribute equally to the definition and operation of the self-system; 
their relative contribution depends on such organizational properties 
as centrality and others that we describe shortly. 

This notion of the self implies, of course, the necessity of differen- 
tiating and integrating one's environing world in such a fashion that 
a more or less consistent evaluation of it can be made in a way 
allowing the individual to cope with his world. Without the capacity 
to break the world down into relevant parts and to relate or pattern 
these differentiations in a way consistent with organismic needs, 
survival of the individual himself, or anv organism for that matter, 
would, we assume, be impossible. 

In this sense then, concepts serve as the vehicle or the function for 
evolving a self and maintaining the organism. The particular way such 
function is carried out varies from person to person, however. One 
person may differentiate and integrate his world in one way whereas 
another person may function in quite a different way. These variations 
in the outcome of differentiation and integration result in structural 
differences in conceptual organization, differences that are reflected in 
differential detection, evaluation, and reaction to a class of stimulus 
events, effects to which most of the later chapters in this book, in one 
way or another, are devoted. 



68 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

The matrix of concepts embraced within the self serve as kinds of 
channels through which the environing world is evaluated. Yet 
properties of the external situation reciprocally influence the con- 
ceptual standards. Thus concepts affect the formation of subsequent 
concepts, and one reacts to the environment in a way that will main- 
tain the concepts as unaltered as possible. And in a situation of con- 
ceptual refutation and conflict, where the modification of some one or 
more existing concepts becomes inescapable, the individual resolves 
this in a way calculated to give him maximum net positive affect, as 
we discussed earlier. 

Because confirmation of the more central concepts tends to give 
rise to positive affect, it becomes synonymous with the maximization 
of positive affect so that this maximization and maintenance of the 
self, especially the more central aspects, go hand in hand. Thus in this 
sense, affect could be viewed as furthering the function of self main- 
tenance: with negative affect, which is experienced in the face of 
situations portending threat to subject-object relations, serving as a 
kind of warning signal; and positive affect, the result of perceived 
situational consonance with the volitional directionality of the concepts, 
serving as an indication of self support. The experienced affect, at 
varying levels of articulateness, seems to depend on sensitization. In 
fact, its quality may be viewed as representing experiential cues to 
possible confirmation or refutation of more central concepts. In con- 
trast to William James, we are not implying a necessary connection 
between affect and cues to potential threat or reinforcement but simply 
that they tend to go together. 

If one chose, one could forego the assignment of the label "function" 
to the above behaviors and instead postulate that it is a tendency of 
any system, including a conceptual or self-system, to act in a way to 
maintain itself or to resist "intrusion" from the outside (to borrow a 
phrase from Campbell, 1958). Herbart (1834) and Kohler (1929), 
to select two historical examples, have as an essential aspect of their 
theories the assumption that any psychological or experiential structure 
possesses as an inherent feature the energy disposing it toward main- 
tenance of its integritv. Herbart applied the notion of self-preservation 
to his treatment of ideas, their competition and conjoining; whereas 
Kohler viewed the law of pregnanz, the "maintenance of good form," 
as a general law of nature expressed in all structures, physical or 
psychological. 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 69 

Examples of Essentialness of Subject-Object 
Relations to Self-Survival 

BRAINWASHING 

Brainwashing provides one of many such examples. The entire pro- 
cedure of the Chinese was to sever or render inoperative the existing 
subject-object relations of their captives, especially the Americans 
(Schein et al., 1957; Segal, 1957). Separation from their unit, break- 
down of the military structure to which they had been accustomed, 
severance of previous friendships with military buddies, and cutting 
of the relationships to the folks back home were combined with other 
aspects of the "brainwashing" treatment to demolish the most basic 
ties of the captives. More telling for our point than the acceptance of 
communist doctrine by a relatively small number was the large 
prevalence of "give-up-itis" and high incidence of death among the 
American Army captives from the apparent loss of the will to live, 
resulting from refutation of their more basic ways of ordering and 
relating to their world. 

MARGIN ALITY 

Marginality in its many expressions could also be used to illustrate 
the result of severance or severe refutation of conceptual linkages to 
the environment, both at the human and infrahuman level. Conditions 
typifying such severe refutation are adolescence, old age, and such 
minority group status as that of the mulatto second-generation Amer- 
ican. These, and others, are all conditions conducing toward an un- 
differentiated environment through either the ambiguity of the roles 
or through rendering inoperative the existing roles or standardized 
ways of responding to the environment. Effects of marginality have 
also been noted to occur among animals, for example, among adolescent 
moose and elk (Altmann, 1960). These animals, when forced from 
their mother, kept from the adults, and permitted to belong to no 
group, often acted in a way analogous to the "give-up-itis" of the 
many American captives in Korea with loss of the motivational 
vitality underlying the will to live. They failed to clean themselves, 
their coats became unkempt and ragged, they became susceptible to 
disease, and they were more likely to fall victim to preying wolves and 
other pitfalls in their environment. 

SENSORY DEPRIVATION 

Sensory deprivation, which occurs when an individual is placed in 
an environment where his contacts with and ties to physical aspects 
of his environment are impaired (Sherif and Harvey, 1952; Bexton et 



70 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

al., 1954; Goldberg and Holt, 1958; Miller and Ludwigh, 1958; Vernon 
and Hoffman, 1956), has certain characteristics that are common to 
both brainwashing and marginality. The individual in all these cases 
is faced with a highly unstructured situation, one that he has not 
differentiated and hence for him lacks stable points of reference by 
which he can successfully orient himself in time and space. 

The findings of Harlow on the "need for contact" ( 1958 ) as well as 
the suggestive results obtained by Spitz ( 1949 ) might be illustrative 
of both the need to differentiate and to integrate the environment and 
of some of the necessary antecedent conditions for the success of 
these processes. 

ANOMIE AND ALIENATION 

Anomie and alienation, the assumed consequences of a state of 
normlessness at the social and personality levels respectively, probably 
are expressive of the same common denominator as underlies mar- 
ginality, brainwashing, and sensory deprivation, namely the impairment 
or severance of certain of the individual's ties or linkages to important 
aspects of his environment. Among these examples the main difference 
in strain upon subject-object relatedness lies more in the nature of the 
object to which aspects of the self are anchored than in the nature or 
function of the linkage itself. Regardless of whether the object of 
relatedness is a physical feature in a person's environment, a social 
norm, or another person, all of these referents comprise anchorages 
to which the self in varying degrees is moored and defined. Individuals 
vary, of course, in the degree of centrality of or dependence of the 
self on the ties to the different classes of objects — to other persons, to 
social norms, to physical referents. Hence persons vary in their reactions 
to confirmation and refutation of their self ties to the different objects. 
The greater the centrality of the ties to any object or class of objects, 
the more pronounced are the consequences of confirmation and 
refutation. Thus the individual whose self is dependent primarily on 
stable linkages to other persons is maximally threatened by disapproval, 
or any other responses from others that portend severance of the 
relationship. The person who is tied more to concrete, physical aspects 
of his world presumably would suffer more from sensory deprivation 
or cut of the environmental ties. And the individual whose self is 
defined largely in terms of social norms and roles will suffer more severe 
consequences when the linkages to these object-referents are cut or 
threatened. The result of the severance of the status or role-linked 
ties is described graphically in the account of a man's self-disintegra- 
tion in the novel, Appointment in Samarra, by John O'Hara. 

Suicide is viewed by many sociologists as an outcome of anomie or 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 71 

impaired function of social norms (Durkheim, 1897; Powell, 1958). 
Particularly consistent with the present point of view is the position 
of Powell (1958), enunciated in conjunction with his study of oc- 
cupation, status, and suicide. Viewing the self as a conceptual system 
embodving social norms, especially those norms surrounding status 
based on a successful occupation, Powell depicts suicide as being more 
likely in our society when failure linked to status and occupation 
occurs. 

When the ends of action become contradictory, unaccessible or insignifi- 
cant, a condition of anomie arises. Characterized by a general loss of 
orientation and accompanied by feelings of "emptiness" and apathy, anomie 
can be simply conceived as meaninglessness. Meaning, however, is not given 
in the conceptual scheme as such; it emerges in action. The self creates 
meaning by its active encounter with the world. When dissociated from a 
conceptual framework, communication breaks down and the self cannot 
validate its existence as a "me" (Powell, 1958, p. 132). 

Severance of status related self-ties such as often occurs at retire- 
ment and job failure is not the sole cause of anomie and attendant 
suicide. The same negative consequences may occur, Powell postulates, 
from "envelopment," a condition that results when the status and role 
referents to which the self is anchored are so numerous that none of 
them exercise a salient or guiding effect. At this extreme, holds 
Powell: 

... if totally enveloped by the norms of the culture, the self cannot act as 
an "I," but, instead, mechanically reacts to a rigidly structured "me." In 
both cases [envelopment and severance] the self is rendered impotent — un- 
able to act — which engenders the meaninglessness of anomie (Powell, 1958, 
p. 132). 

Powell's position on the conditions of anomie lead us to a closing 
and somewhat parenthetical comment on sensory deprivation. It is 
possible that effects very similar to those obtained by "depriving" an 
individual could be obtained by "overstimulating" him, by exposing 
him to an environing field of light and sound of homogeneous and 
high intensities. In both cases, the individual would be surrounded by 
an undifferentiated field where nothing stood out sufficiently saliently 
to serve as anchorage for the self and a guide to action. 

Structure of the Conceptual or Self-System 

Structural Differences Represent 
Variations in Quality 

Bv structure, which in one sense represents the reciprocal of function, 
we mean the extent to and way in which the component concepts are 



72 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

individuated and interrelated within the framework of the totality of 
concepts. The interrelatedness among concepts comprising the self 
can be conceived in terms of innumerable depictions: H ebb's cell- 
assembly model (1949), the interpersonal linkages and interdepend- 
encies inherent in a group as represented by a sociogram, as well 
as by other representations of the interlocking nature of the parts of 
a more inclusive set of relationships. Yet it is apparent that any such 
depiction fails to capture and convey the entire significance of inter- 
dependencies, that of the potentially limitless variation in the qualities 
that may result from combination of the different parts and from the 
different combinations of the same parts. Chemistry illustrates this 
problem, a problem that is even more complex at the level at which we 
are concerned because of the greater openness of the conceptual 
system and the presumably larger variation in which aspects of con- 
cepts may become interrelated both in the nature of their differentiation 
as well as in the way they are related and hooked to others. Theo- 
retically any kind of differentiation could occur and these conceptual 
"elements" could then be linked together in an infinity of possible ways: 
each part to every other part, reciprocally or unilaterally, or one 
part or series of parts to no or few others. 

By structural variations in the self-system we do not mean differences 
in the referents of the subject-object relationships, although important 
variations in these object referents may be considered. We wish instead 
to stress the differences in the nature of the linkage between the subject 
and the object, the way a person has related that object to others of 
his relevant conceptual standards. Individuals may have concepts 
toward the same object, concepts which at first glance might even ap- 
pear similar, such as the common response from a learned psychologist 
and a layman, "All psychology is psychology." From a structural stand- 
point, however, these two superficially similar concepts may be mark- 
edly different. The concept of the psychologist — presumably — would 
be based upon an abstraction derived from the integration of a large 
variety of individuated parts, whereas the concept of the layman 
would be of a different quality due to its lack of differentiation and 
necessary difference in the way it was integrated. 

Structural Variation Is the Outcome 
of Differentiation-Integration 

Concepts in all their variations, both intra- and inter-conceptually, 
represent the end product of how the individual has broken his world 
into parts and has tied these parts together. It is through differentiation 
and integration that the component parts of a conceptual matrix are 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 73 

provided, both in terms of their quality and quantity. Without this 
process, little or no variation could occur in the interrelatedness of 
concepts because, at the most, only a very global, diffuse, and un- 
articulated breakdown of the environment could occur. 

The absence of the individuation of parts is one of the pronounced 
characteristics of the behavior of the human infant as well as of other 
undifferentiated organisms and systems. Until a certain level of differ- 
entiation is attained, stimulation of any budding part tends to result 
in an involuntary response of the total organism, a holistic response 
very different, as Murphy has stressed (1947), from the activation of 
a total system whose parts are well articulated and incorporated into 
a pattern of interrelated functioning. As the system comes to be more 
differentiated and its parts interdependently integrated, the engage- 
ment of single or multiple components of the system comes more 
under voluntary or volitional control, a condition that Goldstein and 
Scheerer (1941) included among their criteria of abstractness. 

Unlike the undifferentiated infant who responds in a diffuse, over- 
generalized way, the more highly developed person may respond by 
engaging one or all parts of the system at once. Such ability, although 
representing a landmark of more abstract activity, would at the same 
time indicate a condition in which wide structural variation was pos- 
sible. If a physical analogy might be employed, this ability could be 
well illustrated by a symphony orchestra. This is a system built upon 
highly articulated and individuated components that are interlinked 
in a high state of interdependence. Yet any one instrument may be 
engaged in a solo, with all others inactive or serving as background. 
Or any or all parts can, if desired, be simultaneously activated in a 
synchronous way. 

The conceptual counterpart of such synchronous orchestration would 
approach the "best of all possible worlds," to borrow from Master 
Pangloss, so far as the attainment of abstract functioning is concerned. 
The ability to engage any or all aspects of the system simultaneously 
as situational exigencies dictate bespeaks a high level of adaptive 
efficiency and psychological parsimony. Individuals vary in the extent 
to which they approach this quality of conceptual activity, probably 
with no one achieving the highest of all possible levels since the con- 
tinual openness at this highest level must necessarily be an always 
retreating end. 

Let us consider now four somewhat more specific structural prop- 
erties that affect the level of abstractness attained, the quality of the 
self that evolves and hence the way the function of self-maintenance 
is reflected in differential detection, evaluation, and response, affective 



74 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

and overt. We first shall briefly characterize these properties and then 
in the final section of the chapter give examples of their effects. The 
properties we shall consider include: (1) clarity-ambiguity, (2) 
compartmentalization-interrelatedness, (3) centrality-peripherality, and 
(4) openness-closedness, all of which, along with other properties we 
are not treating, represent outgrowths of the way the environing world 
is differentiated and integrated. These structural properties in their 
infinite concatenation serve as the prism through which the world is 
filtered and cognitively partialed into the many aspects of reality. As 
individuals vary in their conceptual structures, so must they vary in 
their yardsticks for reading the world. 

We are assuming that structural or organizational dimensions of 
a conceptual or self-system are continuous, varying from zero to 
infinity. In making this assumption, we are trying to escape some of 
the pitfalls of positing discontinuities, especially the insurmountable 
difficulty of having to specify the number of units required of a 
particular dimension for it to be called X, and how many units it 
must have before it becomes Y or Z or . . . N. Thus we avoid the 
problem of how central a concept must be, how much its potential 
affect, before it is to be called an "attitude" or some more neutral 
sounding term, for example. Instead of trying to specify such numerical 
criteria for an "attitude," we would say, for example, that concepts 
vary in their centrality-peripherality. A person can choose whatever 
gradation on this dimension he wishes and call it whatever he chooses, 
"attitude," "belief," or "opinion." We are not interested in what a 
range or point on a dimension is called. A more relevant question, it 
would seem to us, would be: How does a particular magnitude or 
dimension affect the outcome? 

As persons who deal with "attitude," "value," and so forth, tend to 
reserve these terms for concepts of "greater" centrality, although how 
much greater they never say, so those dealing with "self" or "self- 
concept" have tended to reserve these terms for more central concepts. 
But they too have never faced the question of just how central a con- 
cept must be before it is considered as part of "self" or how peripheral 
before it is to fall in the other discontinuous category of "not-self." 
We would say that self is the totality of one's concepts, which vary on 
numerous dimensions, including centrality-peripherality, and that it 
is both pointless and artificial to attempt to draw discontinuous 
boundaries between the self and the not-self, between attitudes and 
other concepts. We would put the question this way: What are the 
effects of certain magnitudes of certain dimensions on the phenomenon 
under consideration? 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 75 

Characterization of Structural Properties 

The following organizational or systemic characteristics are assumed 
to be equally applicable to a single concept, to a matrix of concepts 
within the larger system, or to the totality of concepts constituting 
the self, all of which may be viewed as representing a system, albeit 
a miniature one in the case of a single, simple concept. 

CLARITY-AMBIGUITY 

Clarity-ambiguity refers to the distinctness with which the component 
aspects of the system, smaller or larger, are differentiated or articulated. 
The greater the articulateness of a concept(s), the greater is its 
clarity; the less the articulation or individuation, the greater is the 
ambiguity or the more vague are the interconceptual boundaries. Each 
member or instrument of a symphony orchestra would have high 
clarity, in that each component part is well defined within the larger 
organization. The status positions in a formal or otherwise well- 
defined group would similarly be representative of high clarity. An 
informal group or a set of concepts in its budding stages might be 
possessed of high ambiguity, of a lack of definitiveness, or of individ- 
uation of the constituent parts. The very young infant who involuntarily 
responds all over when stimulated is also representative of ambiguity. 

COMPARTMENTALIZATIOX-INTERRELATEDNESS 

Compartmentalization-interrelatedness refers to the extent to which 
concepts within a svstem are interconnected. A concept may remain 
fairly isolated from others, or it may come to be hooked to any or all 
of them. A necessary condition for the emergence of a group, an effec- 
tive orchestra, or an abstract conceptual activity, is that the articulated 
concepts must become integrated into a larger framework, so that if 
the situation demands, a high intercommunication or interfacilitation 
among them can "voluntarily" be called into play. 

CENTRALITY-PERIPHERALITY 

Centralitv-peripheralitv refers to the degree of essentialness of a 
concept to the larger constellation of concepts, the total self -system or 
a subsvstem of the self, which might or might not be the same. There 
are numerous ways in which centrality may be reflected. A conceptual 
linkage or subject-object relationship could be completely destroyed 
or severed, and its effects on other concepts and the larger system 
noted. With the exception of concentration camps, brainwashing, 
death of a loved one, and similar situations, most environmental ma- 



76 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

nipulations are not sufficiently severe or compelling to do this. Other 
manifestations of greater centrality that may be elicited by less severe 
refutation (or confirmation) include: higher affective arousal, either 
negative or positive; a more intense feeling of threat and anxiety in 
conditions portending violation of the directionality of the concept(s); 
heightened sensitivity and openness or receptivity to those stimuli 
perceived as confirmatory; and increased closedness to negatively 
relevant objects. 

The place of a concept on the centrality-peripherality dimension 
would determine its place on what some might call the hierarchy of 
values or of motives. 

OPENNESS-CLOSEDNESS 

Openness-closedness refers to the receptivity of the system to external 
events or to varied interpretations of the situation. Assumed to be a 
function of the degree of centrality, this dimension may ultimately 
prove to be no more than one operation or index for centrality. It may 
also turn out to be synonymous with the intensity function of an 
attitude or other concept, being expressed in the degree of certainty 
and commitment one feels and hence in the number of alternative 
interpretations one is willing to pursue. 

One operation by which openness-closedness, as we conceive of it, 
could be demonstrated would be the ratio of one's "latitude of ac- 
ceptance," to one's "latitude of rejection," as these ranges are defined 
by Hovland, Harvey, and Sherif (1957). The greater the departure 
of this ratio from unity, in either direction, the more closed the under- 
lying conceptual schemata would be assumed to be in one direction 
and the more open it would be in the other direction. 

Conceptual Structure and Concreteness-Abstractness 

Thus far we have not expressed explicitly the relationship that we 
assume to exist between concreteness-abstractness and variation in 
the structure of conceptual systems. The relationship, we believe, is 
a direct one, with any level of concreteness-abstractness reducible to 
the structural properties of the concepts at the particular time. To use 
once again the analogy to Aristotle's theory of form and matter, con- 
creteness-abstractness may be viewed as form that encompasses the 
less generic structural features that may be treated as matter. 

Other structural dimensions in addition to the four outlined above 
are no doubt necessary to account for the maximum variation in 
concreteness-abstractness. Yet we assume that variation in the struc- 
tural properties we have described will result in variation in the level 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 77 

of concreteness or abstractness at which the conceptual system operates. 
Like any highly articulated and synchronized system — a symphony 
orchestra or a highly developed biological being — more abstract 
functioning is assumed to be rendered possible by a system of relation- 
ships comprising a multiplicity of well-defined and highly interrelated 
parts. More concrete functioning, on the other hand, is assumed to 
result from poorly differentiated concepts, which, as a consequence, 
are less numerous and unlikely to be interrelated. Owing to the greater 
frequency and interrelatedness of his conceptual parts, the more ab- 
stractly functioning person is capable of entertaining more alternatives 
(is more open) than is the more concretely functioning individual. 
Furthermore, because of the multiplicity of parts, the interrelatedness 
amongst them, and the attendant capacity to entertain more alterna- 
tives, no single self-referent or subject-object linkage is as central to 
the person with a more abstract system as it is to the individual whose 
conceptual system is more concrete. The greater the abstractness, the 
less are the definition and maintenance of the self dependent upon a 
single or specific self-referent or subject-object relationship. Contrarily, 
the greater the concreteness of a system, the greater is the likelihood 
of the placement of all of a person's "eggs" into a single psychological 
basket. A consequence of the latter state is a more brittle self-structure, 
one that may be more resistant to change at low levels of stress but 
one that, when it does yield, is more likely to break or fall to pieces. 
Again, the reactions of many American captives to brainwashing at- 
tempts of the Chinese seem to accord with this possibility. 

Interconceptual Variation on 
Structural Dimensions 

A point to be stressed is that not all of an individual's concepts fall 
at the same point on any of the above dimensions. In some of his 
concepts one may be very open, for example, while very closed in 
others. One might feel many interpretations are possible in the area 
of science but that there is only one religion. One set of one's concepts 
might be very isolated from others although other subsystems are 
highly interrelated. Thus a very prejudiced person might proclaim 
man to be his brother's keeper and also feel that Negroes are something 
other than human. 

Because of such interconceptual variations individuals can be simul- 
taneously more abstract on one subsystem of concepts and more con- 
crete on others. Thus one could speak of an individual's score or place 
on the various dimensions for each of the subsystems separately or for 
the total self, that is, for all subsystems combined. It should be kept 



78 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

in mind that later when we speak of open-closedness, and so forth, we 
shall be referring to the place of an individual's more central set of 
concepts or subsystem on this dimension and not about his total self. 
Ultimately the latter problem must be faced, along with the question 
of the extent to which closedness, for example, in one area of concepts 
tends to be general across other areas. 

Effects of Structural Variations on 
Confirmation and Refutation 

The first section of this chapter was concerned with a definition of 
conceptual confirmation and refutation and an explication of the gen- 
eral conditions and effects of each. The second part of the chapter was 
aimed at outlining some of the more important structural or organiza- 
tional dimensions of conceptual systems, variations that result in 
differential sensitization, evaluation, and response to the impinging 
events, even with the event objectively held constant. In this last 
section we attempt to tie together the two earlier sections by indicating 
briefly how variation in the systemic properties of conceptual clarity, 
interrelatedness, centrality, and openness may affect evaluation and 
response to common events. 

Effect of Clarity-Ambiguity 

This factor, in conjunction especially with the degree of interrelated- 
ness of the involved concepts, operates to determine the specificity or 
diffuseness of the aroused affect and response inclinations. In con- 
ditions of high conceptual clarity and low interrelatedness, that is, 
when the concepts involved are well-defined but are more isolated 
from or minimally associated with others in the self-system, more 
specific objects are relevant. Because of the greater specificity of 
subject-object linkages, the resulting affect, positive or negative, and 
the response predilections, approach or avoidance, tend to be toward 
a more specific or less generalized class of objects. 

In yet another case, where the involved concepts may be interrelated 
or connected either because they were never clearly differentiated in 
the first place or they were linked together following a prior differentia- 
tion, a wider range of stimuli is capable of generating affective arousal 
and behavioral predispositions. Critical differences exist, however, 
between the effects from engagement of subsystems of concepts that 
are interrelated in these two different ways. The activity resulting 
from the first instance, where the concepts involved were interrelated 
through their having been clearly differentiated and hooked together 



CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING AND MOTIVATION 79 

because of the abstraction of a common underlying dimension, could 
be more abstract. The individual with such a conceptual system could 
be more creative, could change set more easily, and could more or less 
voluntarily engage all or fewer of the system of concepts as the sit- 
uation "demanded." On the other hand, the individual whose concepts 
are ill-defined and are interlinked because they have never been 
clearly differentiated will behave more concretely. Stimuli will have 
a greater "oughtness" for him because of his greater lack of differentia- 
tion, much in the fashion of the infant prior to a clear development of 
individuated parts. The latter individual will be more stereotyped in 
his responses than the former due to his greater inability to call into 
play in an orchestrated way his concepts singly or in totality. 

If one chose, he could restrict the term "interrelatedness" to mean 
an interlinking or association of concepts following differentiation 
instead of applying it also to conceptual interdependencies resulting 
from lack of differentiation. The terming is not important as long as 
cognizance is taken of the basic differences between these two pheno- 
typically similar structural states. Let us suggest how such differences 
may be reflected in two problem areas of psychology, anxiety and what 
is generally termed stimulus generalization. 

Anxiety is generally defined as a fear which is ill-defined or not 
specific to a particular stimulus object. Such pervasiveness of affect 
would more likelv result from real or expected refutation of concepts 
that were interrelated due to lack of clear differentiation. Such lack 
of differentiation could result either (1) from the concepts never 
having been differentiated, or (2) through a loss of differentiation due 
to some threatening or otherwise unpleasant experience, which resulted 
in a kind of conceptual "regression" or "dedifferentiation." Anxiety, 
the prerequisite of which is threat to subject-object relations, should be 
greater in the latter than in the former instance, especially if the con- 
cepts involved are high on the hierarchy of centralitv. 

Similar responses to different (but not too different) stimuli are 
generally referred to as stimulus generalization. We would like to 
suggest, following the points above, that what is called generalization 
may just as well occur from lack of differentiation or lack of discrimina- 
tion among stimuli. Perhaps it would be more appropriate, more in 
keeping with the attributed relevance of stimulus generalization, if 
this term were reserved for behavior stemming from differentiated 
(clear) concepts that have been interrelated. Those phenotypically 
similar responses, which stem from undifferentiated (ambiguous) but 
interrelated concepts, might more aptly be referred to simply as lack 
of differentiation. 



80 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Such a distinction has several implications. Take the example, used 
earlier, of a learned psychologist and a layman who maintained "all 
psychology is psychology" and made this response across situations. 
The psychologist's behavior would stem from differentiated and inter- 
related concepts, and accordingly would be an example of stimulus 
generalization; but he could also make distinctions. The behavior 
of the layman, on the other hand, would represent the expressing of 
ambiguous but interrelated concepts, and hence would more nearly 
qualify for the label of undifferentiation. 

Because it is more abstract, generalization based on differentiation 
and interrelatedness is more likely to lead to creative, adaptive re- 
sponses. It is not unlikely that the American soldier who held that 
"America is the best of all possible lands" due to differentiation and 
integration behaved very differently toward brainwashing attempts 
than did the soldier who knew this response only as a kind of catechism, 
without differentiation. 

Effects of Interrelatedness-Compartmentalization 

The apparent lack of consistency of an individual's behavior across 
several situations, a problem that has especially plagued researchers 
concerned with generality of attitudes and personality, can perhaps be 
better understood when considered in relation to the degree of con- 
ceptual compartmentalization that characterizes the concepts of a 
particular person. The greater the compartmentalization, the more 
easily a person can vary his response without any knowledge of 
contradiction or feeling of conflict. In terms of avoiding conflict, com- 
partmentalization is very effective. It is also parsimonious in terms of 
energy expenditure because a person never faces the problem of recon- 
ciling contradictory concepts or tendencies. Such need for reconcilia- 
tion only occurs if the boundaries between the simultaneously operating 
concepts are not too impermeable, only if the concepts are somewhat 
interrelated through prior differentiation and interlinking of them. 

Concepts characterized by a high degree of clarity and compart- 
mentalization dispose one toward both specific and stereotyped evalua- 
tion of and response to the situation, specific because of the definitive- 
ness of the concepts and stereotyped as a consequence of isolation 
from the influence of other concepts. 

Greater compartmentalization of concepts could result from at least 
two reasons: (1) from failure ever to have linked the concept(s) to 
other concepts; or (2) from having relinquished such linkage through 
a kind of "deintegration," employed as a defensive maneuver to avoid 
the conflict or punishment experienced from interrelating or associat- 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 81 

ing the particular concepts. For example, the child who learns that 
one is his brother's keeper and proceeds to apply this concept to a 
Negro may meet with unfavorable consequences that result in his 
severing the ill-defined connection between the two concepts. Com- 
partmentalization due to the latter conditions probably would be more 
difficult to overcome than that stemming from the former circumstances. 

Effects of Centrality-Peripherality 

This is the dimension more often recognized as crucial to attitude 
functioning and change. The more central a concept the more resistant 
the individual is to changing it, the greater the negative affect when it 
is refuted and the higher the positive affect when it is confirmed. 
Similarly the stronger are the behavioral tendencies of approach or 
avoidance as centrality is increased. When the operative concepts are 
rendered in conflict, such as generally occurs in an attitude change 
situation where concepts toward the "source" and target "issue" are 
rendered incompatible, one seems to behave in the way that favors 
the more central concept(s). A central concept coming into logger- 
heads with a peripheral concept results in little conflict and little 
negative affect because the change easily occurs in the weaker con- 
cept with the more central one left largely unaltered. 

It is assumed that the total degree of centrality, at least in terms of 
the strength of response potential and affective arousal, as we proposed 
earlier, is some multiplicative function of centrality and the number of 
concepts involved. Thus although one would behave in a way to favor 
A, a more central concept, when it is pitted singly against either B 
or C, which in relation to A are less central concepts, when B and C 
are combined against A the pattern of choice and behavioral resolu- 
tion would now favor the combination of B and C if their pooled 
centrality were greater than A's. Clearly such conceptual mechanics 
are yet to be worked out, although the early work on conflict ( Under- 
wood, 1949) seems to be in line with this possibility. 

Because of variations in the training conditions underlying con- 
ceptual differentiation and integration ( Chapters 5 and 6 ) any of one's 
concepts or subsystems of concepts can come to be of greatest cen- 
trality to him. The subsystems to which much of this book is later 
devoted are assumed to represent constellations of concepts of greatest 
centrality to different persons. It should be kept in mind, however, that 
when we treat the subsystems of concepts taken to be most central to 
that particular individual that we are not assuming we are character- 
izing the conceptual functioning of that individual across all of his 
concepts. To the extent that the other concepts were similar in degree 



82 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

of centrality, compartmentalization, and the like, the greater, we 
imagine, would be the likelihood of such a possibility. We would like 
to suggest that the old question of generality of attitudes, personality, 
values, and so forth, all of which represent concepts for us, might prove 
more meaningful and potentially solvable if these structural properties 
are taken into consideration. 

Effects of Openness-Closedness 

Complete closedness would mean the inaccessibility to external 
impingements; if one's concepts were completely closed they would 
be impossible to refute. No effect, therefore, affective or otherwise, 
would result. Extreme racists often manifest such a degree of closed- 
ness that it is virtually impossible to get "information'' into their 
system. Closedness, which seems to stem largely from greater cen- 
trality, gives rise to the tendency to ward off potentially refuting 
stimuli. 

But what is refutive varies with the particular structure and level 
of abstractness attained by a set of concepts. One can presumably be 
closed at any level of concreteness-abstractness, but because of 
structural variations the closedness would be reflected quite differ- 
ently. For example, at the more concrete level, where one's concepts 
tend to be more bifurcated, absolutistic, and black-white, one tends to 
be closed to events that imply multiple and alternate evaluations of 
the situation. At a more abstract level of functioning, where one's 
concepts include multiple alternatives and relativistic premises, closed- 
ness would be to absolutism, categoricalness, the very things to which 
the more concrete individual would be open. 

A further, perhaps even more basic, difference between the closed- 
ness of a more abstract and a more concrete system lies in the length of 
the time interval in which conceptual closedness is maintained. For 
the more abstractly functioning system closedness would be more 
temporary and is more likely to occur only during the time that the 
environmental "input" is being differentiated and integrated with ex- 
isting parts. For the more concretely functioning system, on the other 
hand, closedness is of longer and more invariant duration, with less 
likelihood of even short-termed opening of the system to admit in new 
"inputs." The more abstractly functioning individual might deliberately 
"close his mind" to new impingements while he was maximally 
"squeezing" information out of prior "inputs." The more concretely 
functioning person might actively ward off the new impingements, not 
so much to facilitate articulation, as to avoid threat to his more brittle 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 83 

conceptual structure in which only a minimal number of distinctions 
of any impingement are possible. 

Stimuli can become so threatening and can portend such degrees of 
conceptual refutation and negative affect that they are almost ex- 
clusively warded off. Such extreme closedness, representative of certain 
psychotics, will be illustrated in more detail in Chapter 9. 

Some evidence from real-life, non-laboratory cases seem to suggest 
that the individual strives more toward maintenance of a particular 
level of concreteness-abstractness, reflected in variations in the struc- 
tural properties we have described than of a particular content or 
directionality of a concept. For example, Whittaker Chambers, an avid 
Communist one day, was an equally avid anti-Communist the next. 
Or an avid and closed religious zealot may become a vehement 
atheist. In such instances, which could be multiplied ad infinitum, the 
directionality of the concept is reversed but such structural aspects as 
centrality and closedness are kept more intact. 

These examples in which conceptual direction is reversed but 
structure is maintained, reflected dramatically in the shift from love 
to hate, as described by Freud, follow the notions of saccadic function- 
ing (described in Chapter 2), which is more likely to occur at the 
more concrete levels of functioning due to poverty of conceptual 
alternatives. Given an either-or view of the world, when an event does 
not fit a person, it is automatically placed in the opposite category. 

The same tendency to change the directionality of a concept more 
readily than to alter its organizational characteristics under conditions 
of greater concreteness such as high centrality, high compartmentaliza- 
tion, and high closedness, is often seen in reactions to psychotherapy, 
examples of which will be presented in Chapter 10. 

Let us call attention to one implication of the above for behavior 
theory, to difference in interpretation that may result from focusing 
attention on the more phenotypic versus the more genotypic as- 
pects of behavior. In terms of the more phenotypic, such directional 
"flip-floppers" as those described above would be viewed as behavioral 
opposites. Yet if the yardstick for gauging were conceptual organiza- 
tion, then such phenotypic reversal would be seen as opposite ex- 
pressions of the same thing. 

There is no question but that the consequences of such directional 
changes are significant, especially if the effects on other persons are 
considered. At the same time, we must not assume that because be- 
havioral expression may take opposite forms that the underlying 
structure has also undergone a parallel inversion. One possible im- 



84 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

plication of this for attitude scaling is that a neutrality point should 
not be placed between the positive and negative poles, but instead the 
negative and positive poles should be more adjacent to coincide with 
their greater structural similarities. This point is also relevant for 
those few remaining psychologists who think of themselves as classical 
Behaviorists. 

The importance of structural variations in a person's system of 
concepts becomes more apparent when they are considered in relation 
to different levels of development on stages of concreteness-abstract- 
ness, the major concern of the next chapter. 



4 Stages of 

Conceptual Development 



How do concepts develop? We view concepts as jointly determined 
by the internal state of the organism and conditions of the relevant 
environment. Out of this interdependent totality of dispositional and 
situational determinants our emphasis shall be on those internal states 
represented by the stage of development of the individual at the 
particular time and on those external factors embodied in the training 
conditions to which the individual is exposed. The present chapter 
deals specifically with the stages of development; the next chapter 
considers the specific training conditions that affect the course of 
development through these stages. In the present chapter we con- 
sider these training conditions only very generally, in terms of their 
either favoring or restricting progression in development at a particular 
stage. Once the stages of development have been set forth in this 
chapter, then the specific effects of training described in the next 
chapter may be seen more clearly. 

The Process of Development 

Development was described earlier as a saccadic process, occurring 
as a series of "bursts" or "leaps." In saccadic movement there is an 
initial placing of end points, boundaries, or brackets around a concept, 
providing the basis for making finer discriminations between the 
antithetical poles. When training conditions permit these develop- 
mental leaps to occur, it is as if the organism were experiencing two 
readings or perceptions of the same event or object. The process of 
development is thus viewed as consisting of generating and integrating 
discrepant feedback or differentiations from the environment. Saccadic 
development is identical to the general notions underlying the term 
"plateau" in learning and to what Bartlett (1958) has called "closing 
the gap" in thinking. 

An essential assumption in the present approach is the importance 

85 



86 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

of antithetical poles or opposites in development. Ilg and Ames have 
remarked, "Nature seems to have this awkward way of going to opposite 
extremes as the child develops" (Ilg and Ames, 1955, p. 31). If con- 
sidered from the viewpoint of progressive development, the process 
may not be entirely awkward, as the following points illustrate: 

1. The discrimination of extreme opposites can be made more easily 
than the discrimination between less different stimuli. Once these op- 
posite poles have been discriminated, the person is in a position to 
make finer and more difficult discriminations. The reference points 
placed around the extreme limits of a given conceptual system ( that is, 
the two poles ) therefore serve as anchorages for making finer discrimi- 
nations within the "gap." 

2. Interpretations based on opposite poles are more easily integrated 
than differentiations based on concepts that have no necessary relation- 
ship to each other. That is, black and white are opposites, but they are 
also both colors. Therefore the very opposition of the two poles on the 
same dimension facilitates integration whereas the integration of 
differentiations based on unrelated anchors would be more difficult. 

3. If the person can differentiate such opposing poles and integrate 
them, such a process represents the "optimal" developmental leap 
because the emerging conceptual system would have the characteristics 
of maximal abstractness relative to the poles of the original concept 
on which it was based. 

The facilitating effects of "opposites" upon progression may be 
viewed in another way. Progression is facilitated under conditions of 
clarity of the initial concept, openness of the developing concept to 
discrepant (particularly opposing) events, and the successful integra- 
tion of these two systems of mapping into a new conceptual schema. 1 

This view of the process of development is one of emerging concepts. 
When training conditions favor the generation of discrepant conceptual 
orderings ( opposing poles ) a new synthesis can emerge if the opposing 
or discrepant differentiations can be integrated. The new synthesis 

1 Differentiation and integration were described earlier as the vehicles through 
which various levels of abstractness emerged. In ageement with Murphy's ( 1947 ) 
view of development, in three phases extending from a stage of greater diffuse 
wholeness to integration, we view each stage of development in the same way. 
However, we view the process of progression from any stage to the next most ab- 
stract stage as including three related and perhaps simultaneous phases: (1) the 
base or initial stage, which is more concrete, more diffuse, and non-conflicting; 
(2) the emergence of discrepant or conflicting differentiations; and (3) the in- 
tegration of the new and old differentiations into an emergent, more abstract con- 
ceptual schema. We deal with the above three aspects as phases of progression from 
one stage of development to the next most abstract stage, not as stages as Murphy's 
language implies. 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 87 

contains modified aspects of the two initially discrepant poles. When 
a new synthesis emerges, it in turn serves as a baseline for the possible 
generation of new discrepant differentiations and the development of 
new syntheses. 

For the most part, the present chapter is concerned with a descrip- 
tion of certain syntheses that serve as nodal points or plateaus in 
development as it progresses from more concrete to more abstract 
linkages for dealing with a given range of stimuli. Although there are 
innumerable facets of conceptual development, we emphasize four 
syntheses or nodal stages representing four levels along the concrete- 
abstract dimension. The more concrete stages emerge from the 
synthesis or integration of simpler, more bifurcated poles, whereas 
the more abstract stages emerge from the integration of poles char- 
acterized by a more complex conceptual structure. 

The Order or Course of Development 

From the present viewpoint we assume that the most general effect 
of developmental conditions is the extent to which these conditions 
induce openness or closedness of the concepts to discrepant differentia- 
tions (developmental leaps), required for the emergence of more 
abstract concepts for coping with a given range of stimuli. Further- 
more, viewing development in terms of progressive stages implies that 
certain more concrete systems of ordering must be mastered or articu- 
lated before more abstract levels can emerge. Assuming that environ- 
mental conditions facilitate openness to the discrepant conceptual 
orderings or differentiations required for progression, we maintain that 
the development of more abstract conceptual structures follows a given 
course. 

In this chapter we assume training conditions that permit progressive 
development and outline (a) the discrepant poles and (b) the nature 
of the syntheses or integrations that emerge at various levels along the 
concrete-abstract dimension. These are presented in Table 1. 

Table 1 will be elaborated and clarified in this chapter and to some 
extent in Chapter 5 since the course of development cannot be fully 
described in the absence of the specification of the training conditions. 
However, Table 1 presents the conceptual poles that generate dis- 
crepant or conflicting differentiations of relevant stimuli in the proposed 
order, at each level of abstractness. The table also indicates the nature 
of the emergent, more abstract concept, following the synthesis of the 
two more concrete poles at each level. 

It is apparent that the developmental leap at each stage involves the 
integration of one form of "dependence" and one form of "independ- 




a 
S 

Oh 
O 



M Q 



two 
o 



(I) 
















> 


















Cl> 


TO 


£l 


CO 


u 



88 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 89 

ence." In its most general form, then, progressive development involves 
the emergence of more abstract conceptual schemata for mediating 
these two basic orientations. The "independent" pole of a concept at 
one level ( for example, pole B ) is somewhat similar to the "independ- 
ent" pole of the emergent concept at the next level (for example, pole 
C). The same is true of successive "dependent" poles. 

Although not immediately apparent in Table 1, the "independent" 
poles at differing levels of abstractness differ in terms of their em- 
beddedness in a different concept. For example, pole B ( opposition ) at 
the first level is embedded in a system of ordering extending to uni- 
lateral dependence on absolutistic standards, whereas pole C (second 
stage independence) is embedded in a system of ordering extending 
to dependence upon a differentiated source or object of support. Inde- 
pendence at the second stage ( pole C ) is described within a different 
system of ordering than at the first stage. 

The Results of Development: Progression and Arrestation 

1. PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT 

Progressive development at every stage involves training conditions 
that induce openness of the conceptual system to differentiations (or 
evaluations ) based on both opposing poles of the most central concept, 
and the integration of these conflicting differentiations into a new con- 
ceptual system. As described in Table 1, progression therefore refers 
to the emergence of concepts that are open to differentiations based on 
both poles. This permits positive, or approach tendencies, to both poles 
as well as the potential occurrence of the conflicting differentiations 
required for progression. Four stages representing the four conceptual 
systems or syntheses shown in Table 1 are discussed as the first, second, 
third, and fourth stages in the development of more abstract forms 
of subject-object linkages. 

Before proceeding to a more detailed consideration of the process 
of development and the stages involved, an initial "common sense" 
overview of these nodal stages may help provide a general orientation 
for this chapter. We begin our study of the developmental process at 
the point where an individual is placed in a new or novel situation. 1 

1 In beginning with this stage, we assume that development has progressed be- 
yond a stage of omnipotence (Ausubel, 1952; Sullivan, 1953). That is, what we 
refer to as "the first stage" assumes that the subject has already developed the 
potential for learning in response to the methods outlined in the next chapter and 
that he has developed a relationship to the source. Failure to do so is illustrated by 
early infantile autism ( Kanner, 1943). 



90 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

To the extent that the situation is novel, the individual finds himself 
in an unstructured situation in which there is a minimum of develop- 
ment of concepts or programs for transforming stimuli into response 
systems. As such, the concepts are maximally undifferentiated, and the 
subject will be maximally sensitized to external control. Functioning 
at this relatively undifferentiated level is more bifurcated and is aimed 
toward establishing structure and the avoidance of ambiguity. This 
stage, characterized by more absolutistic or concretistic concepts, is 
referred to as the first stage. In child development this level of 
functioning represents greater dependence on the field and less ar- 
ticulateness of his world. 

The second stage in development of more abstract concepts is 
described as typifying a gross differentiation of the self from the ex- 
ternal field. It represents the emergence of internal control. If an in- 
dividual is to develop to more abstract levels of functioning in a given 
area, then he must develop the potential to utilize conceptual orderings 
as tools since otherwise he will remain a slave to the more externally 
derived, fixed concepts of the first stage. Progression beyond the initial 
stage represents the emergence of the potential to free oneself, in 
Fromm's ( 1941 ) terms, from absolutism and to manipulate or re- 
organize a given ordering system in the absence of external control. 
Second stage functioning is characterized by the questioning of control, 
oppositional tendencies, the testing of limits, and an avoidance of 
dependence. 

After an individual's conceptual orientations are differentiated from 
external control, the possibility of dependence emerges since the suc- 
cessful differentiation of the self from the external field does not 
automatically imply an independence from field forces. Indeed, it is 
only after such a differentiation that the individual can begin to 
articulate the external world and his unique relationship to it. Further 
progression therefore involves the "testing out" of alternate conceptual 
orderings. At this third stage the individual reorganizes his own con- 
cepts (internal causation) in order to experience the consequences of 
these different orderings. Third stage functioning, involving a high 
degree of sensitization to the reactions of others, will be characterized 
by mutuality, conditional dependence, and an "empirical" attitude. 
During the third stage the individual is still relatively dependent upon 
the reactions of other people in testing the consequences of given 
conceptual orderings. Further progression to the most abstract stage 
considered involves the development of internal and informationally- 
based concepts that act as a referent for evaluating feedback from 
the environment, including the reactions of other people. 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 91 

Functioning at the fourth stage is maximally abstract, involving the 
availability of a variety of conceptual orderings along which stimuli 
can be differentially evaluated. As a result such functioning may in- 
volve the integration of differentiated concepts into abstract internal 
referents. At this stage the person is not only clearly differentiated from 
the field but also he has developed the capacity to reorder and re- 
synthesize articulated concepts. Therefore, functioning at this stage is 
described in terms of the individual's maintaining an interdependent 
relationship with the environment around him. 

2. ARREST ATION AT A GIVEN STAGE 

If environmental pressures are out of synchrony with the conceptual 
structures required for the emergence of a more abstract synthesis, 
fixation or arrestation of development occurs. Viewed conceptually, 
such asynchrony produces one positive pole and one negative pole at 
a given level, an effect which prevents progression. In terms of the 
first stage described in Table 1, if environmental pressures inducing 
openness to unilateral dependence and closedness to opposition to 
absolutistic control are experienced, then pole A (unilateral depend- 
ence) becomes positive and pole B (internal control) becomes 
negative, and the net effect is arrestation at the first stage. 

Asynchrony in relation to the first stage might also take the form of 
environmental pressure inducing openness to opposition (approach 
tendencies to pole B) while inducing closedness to unilateral depend- 
ence ( withdrawal tendencies to pole A ) . The net effect in this circum- 
stance is also arrestation, but at the second stage. The more specific 
details of such arrestation will be treated in Chapter 5. 

3. TRANSITIONAL ARRESTATION 

If environmental pressures are out of synchrony with the conceptual 
structure in such a way that each of the two poles becomes both 
positive and negative, transitional arrestation, or arrestation between 
two stages, results. Such environmental pressure simultaneously in- 
duces both positive and negative evaluations of each pole, thus retard- 
ing integration and the evolvement of more abstract systems of ordering 
for transforming impinging stimuli into responses. 

General Introductory Remarks 

RELATED CONCEPTIONS 

In positing a particular order of progressive development, which 
interacts with environmental conditions, we are in agreement with a 



92 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

number of earlier writers. In using the concept "transitoriness of 
instincts," William James (1890) contended that the instinct would 
not materialize unless it was triggered off by particular environmental 
stimuli at a given time. Later Tinbergen ( 1955 ) demonstrated a similar 
effect experimentally by his work on imprinting. He showed that duck- 
lings could be taught to follow a given object (rather than their 
mother) if exposed to that object at a given stage in development, but 
not at other ages. Moreover, once learned at a critical period, such a 
response tended to persist. Many studies on maturation indicate that 
the mastery of a skill proceeds at a much faster rate during certain 
stages of development. Training before this stage has little effect, but 
if the training is delaved too far beyond this critical stage, a permanent 
deficit may result ( Shepard and Breed, 1913; Bird, 1925; Carmichael, 
1926; Gesell and Thompson, 1929). 

Freud (1938) posited stages in personality development that are 
ordered in terms of the nature of psychosexual attachments. He further 
postulated that fixation or arrestation of development could occur at 
any level as a result of "excessive" frustration or "excessive" gratifica- 
tion of the psychosexual attachments at that level. Presumably, in 
progression there is an absence of such excesses. The traditional 
psychoanalytic approach, which has been integrated into a more 
generic framework by such writers as Fromm (1941), Sullivan (1953), 
Horney (1937), and Erikson (1950), postulated opposite training 
effects as antecedent conditions for fixation. Whiting and Child (1953) 
point out that excessive gratification and excessive frustration should 
produce different effects. However, it is also possible that both ex- 
tremes could produce different forms of arrestation or fixation at the 
same level of progressive development, a possibility that we later 
explore in detail. In addition, other recent investigators ( for example, 
Hess, 1959 ) assume that ( 1 ) development is characterized by progres- 
sive stages and ( 2 ) that training interacts with these stages of develop- 
ment. 

RANGE OF RELEVANCE 

We assume that the principles of development described apply to a 
fairly broad range of developmental phenomena: child development, 
development of groups, concept development, development of complex 
skills in education, and the like. Thus, although we emphasize child 
development and speak of the developing organism, we assume that 
the principles are fairly generic. As such, the work of Piaget (1932, 
1954), Gesell (1940, 1948, 1956), Erikson (1950), Ausubel (1958), 
Sullivan (1953), Sullivan, Grant, and Grant (1957) in child develop- 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 93 

ment; Bennis and Sheparcl (1956), Martin and Hill (1957) in the 
development of small groups; Kennedy (1960) in the development 
of simulated groups; Parsons (1955) in the development of cultures; 
and Freud (1938), Rotter (1954), and Rogers (1958) in the develop- 
ment of therapeutic relationships are relevant to the present view. In 
short, the present treatment is seen as relevant to all forms of psycho- 
logical development, viewed structurally. 

Throughout this chapter, as in this book generally, we are dealing 
with the structure rather than the content of experience. In consider- 
ing development we are not concerned with growth curves or the 
increasing magnitude of any particular response. Whatever the subject 
is learning (attitudes toward parents or group members, attitudes 
toward religion or mathematics ) our emphasis is upon developmental 
changes in the concepts that mediate between stimuli on the one hand 
and responses on the other. This approach to development says 
nothing about what is being learned; it is relevant only to the stages 
of development of concepts that generate the learned responses. 

One qualifying assumption may be noted here. In contending that 
development occurs through a series of progressive stages, we are 
assuming that the development in question begins in a novel situation. 
If a person is placed in a novel situation, or if a situation becomes 
sufficiently novel, then w 7 e would expect conceptual development to 
proceed according to the stages described. We return to this point 
later, but mention it here for emphasis because if the situation is not 
novel, or if the person has experienced developmental progression in 
related areas that generalize to the new area, then the progressive 
nature of development, especially in its earlier stages, becomes more 
difficult to observe since these earlier stages become "collapsed" in 
time, as it were. 

MOST EVIDENCE RELEVANT TO STAGES OF 
DEVELOPMENT IS OBSERVATIONAL 

The notions underlying progressive development are central to the 
later dimensionalization of functioning and training methods. However, 
these assumptions regarding development are presented in the sense 
of general guide lines, rather than as empirical facts, In utilizing these 
assumptions the reader will discover that much of the evidence pre- 
sented in this chapter is anecdotal and observational. Although we 
are aware of the difficulties in using such evidence, there is no apparent 
alternative available. Therefore, we evaluate our view toward develop- 
ment against these observations in terms of their consistency. "We hope 
that these assumptions regarding development will lead to useful 



94 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

formulations. However, the present explication of assumptions also 
brings them into the potential domain of empirical investigation in 
their own right. 

Having presented a brief overview of our approach to development, 
a more detailed consideration of each stage is now undertaken. The 
relevant observations and materials related to those stages are pre- 
sented. 

First Stage: Unilateral Dependence 

Conceptual systems in the first stage are characterized by external 
control, by the acceptance of externally derived concepts or schemata 
not built up through experience with the actual stimuli, and by the 
absolutistic nature of such concepts. In a new or relatively unstructured 
situation, a person's functioning is maximally anchored in external 
control and is therefore characterized by seeking external criteria for 
evaluating his behavior. The term unilateral is intended to convey the 
fact that functioning in this stage is adjusted to match absolutis- 
tic, ready-made conceptual criteria. Unilateral dependence implies a 
lack of differentiation between a rule and its purpose; between 
authority and one's own experience; between one's thoughts about 
authority and oneself. First stage functioning is assumed to have the 
following characteristics : things are endowed with power as in magical 
thought; answers to questions are accepted more in the sense of 
absolutes (Werner, 1957); thinking is more concrete ("this is the way 
it is because it is" ) ; behavior associated with this stage is characterized 
by a greater immediacy, by greater sensitivity to limits, to what is 
right and wrong, to what is tolerated and not tolerated, and by greater 
submissiveness to external control. 

According to Bennis and Shepard (1956) the first stage in the de- 
velopment of a group involves a preoccupation with authority and 
submission, or in their words, ". . . the characteristic expectations 
of group members are that the trainer will establish rules of the game 
and distribute rewards. He is presumed to know what the goals are 
or ought to be" (p. 420). At this stage these authors view the group's 
behavior as a plea for the leader to tell them what to do. In problem 
solving the beginning stage of conceptual functioning is characterized 
by rigidity and all-or-none shifting. In the initial stage of psychother- 
apy, patients begin by seeking a direct solution (Rogers, 1951), or as 
Rotter (1954) observed, they hope that ". . . the therapist will . . . 
either in some magical way provide him with a better personality or 
in some way or other remove the frustrations from his external cir- 
cumstances" (p. 355). 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 95 

In the study of the moral development of the child, Piaget (1932) 
refers to this stage as moral realism. According to Piaget, this stage 
possesses three features: 

... In the first place, duty, as viewed by moral realism, is essentially 
heteronomous. Any act that shows obedience to a rule or even to an adult, 
regardless of what he may command, is good; any act that does not conform 
to rules is bad. A rule is therefore not in any way something elaborated, 
or even judged or interpreted by the mind; it is given as such, readymade 
and external to the mind. It is also conceived of as revealed by the adult and 
imposed by him. The good, therefore, is rigidly defined by obedience. 

In the second place, moral realism demands that the letter rather than 
the spirit of the law shall be observed. This feature derives from the 
first. . . . 

In the third place, moral realism induces an objective conception of 
responsibility. We can even use this as a criterion of realism, for such an 
attitude toward responsibility is easier to detect than the two that precede 
it. For since he takes rules literally and thinks of good only in terms of 
obedience, the child will at first evaluate acts not in accordance with the 
motive that has prompted them, but in terms of their exact conformity with 
established rules (pp. 106-107). 

According to the normative observations made by the staff at the 
Gesell Institute of Child Development (Ilg and Ames, 1955), char- 
acteristics of conceptual functioning similar to those in the first stage 
are first observed at about the age of two. The normative two-year-old 
" . . can occasionally put another person's wishes above his own. 
. . . though he cannot as yet share with other children. . . ." (p. 25). 
As the authors point out, however, early child development is char- 
acterized by rapid and violent swings from one extreme of functioning 
to another. The stages are close together so that the normative two- 
and-a-half-year-old child is stubborn and domineering. 

It appears from the observational data that a child encountering a 
relatively new environmental demand is likely to begin an entirely new 
developmental cycle. Thus behavior typical of this first stage of func- 
tioning was reported to be characteristic of children of two, five, ten, 
and sixteen years of age. ( See Table 2. ) The relationship of first stage 
functioning to new environmental demands may be seen when we note 
that these ages approximate the normative years when children ( 1 ) 
begin to talk, (2) begin school, group play, (3) begin to look to peers 
as opposed to the family as a model, and ( 4 ) begin to take on the adult 
role, respectively. For example, the normative five-year-old is described 
as "... a good age. . . . His mother is the center of his world. . . . 
He likes to do things with her and for her, likes to obey her commands. 
He likes to be instructed and get permission" (p. 33). And the nor- 
mative ten-year-old, after passing through all ranges of behavior, as 
". . . his parents' word is so utterly law . . . He not only obeys easily 



96 



CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 



TABLE 2 
Cyclical and Saccadic Nature of Progressive Social Development * 

Stages of Conceptual Development 



Cycle 



Age 



\h 





2 


I 


2h 


Infancy 


3 




3^-4*3 




5 


II 


6 


Childhood 


7-8 




9 




10 


rat 


11 


Late 


12-14 


Childhood 


15-16 



First 








Stage 


Second 


Third 


Fourth 


External 


Stage 


Stage 


Stage 


Control 


Negativism 


Mutuality 


Interdependence 




Based on an interpretation of the normative observations taken at the 
Gesell Institute (Ilg and Ames, 1955). 

t This part of the graph is hypothetical to show the expected progression to 
more abstract functioning in the third cycle. 



and naturally, but he seems to expect to obey and gains status in his 
own eyes by his obedience" (Ilg and Ames, p. 40). Naturally first stage 
behavior at five is different from first stage behavior at ten, particularly 
if progression through more abstract levels has occurred between these 
ages. Less difference between first stage functioning at different ages 
would be expected if arrestation occurred at an early age ( see Chapters 
5 and 6 ) . Developmental norms representing a return to an earlier stage 
of organization after progression to varying levels of abstractness would 
be required for diagnosis or a statistical description of development. 

Since first stage functioning may be quite desirable from the source's 
standpoint (for example, the parents' wishes) he may attempt to 
prevent the subject's progression beyond this stage. Procedures that 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 97 

prevent progression beyond the first stage may be implicitly justified 
by conceiving of first stage functioning as highly desirable and valued. 
For example, in education, absolutistic functioning is often confused 
with development; in dogma it can be viewed as faith; in totalitarian 
states as being a good citizen; and in personal development as being 
"good," obedient, or trustworthy. Although this early level of function- 
ing represents some degree of all these "positive" characteristics and 
may be advantageous in certain situations, the nature of relatedness in 
the first stage is nonetheless concrete, unilateral, and absolutistic. 

Transition to the Second Stage (First Transition) 

In order for development to progress beyond this unilateral level of 
functioning, new differentiations must evolve and become integrated 
with old differentiations. From pole A of first stage concepts, the op- 
posite pole of the conceptual system, which represents the simplest and 
next most abstract differentiation, is resistance to external control (pole 
B). Training that induces sufficient openness to such oppositional 
tendencies, and simultaneously sufficient openness to and trust in ex- 
ternal control, maximizes the potential for integrating these opposing 
motivational tendencies and for developmental progression to the 
second stage. In common language, parents whose behavior both 
promotes trust and gives permission and encouragement to develop 
assertiveness, opposition, and age-appropriate independence provide 
the necessary basis for developmental progress to what we refer to as 
the second stage. 

Through the integration of differentiations based on unilateral ab- 
solutistic control and opposition to external control, the subject is 
able ( 1 ) to free himself from the constraints of symbiotic dependence, 
(2) to differentiate between external and internal control, and (3) to 
manipulate the criterion applied to his own behavior through the 
potential of generating different systems of ordering outside the frame- 
work of external control. Under conditions of progression, first stage 
tendencies are less absolutistic and second stage tendencies are less 
negativistic, compared to functioning that is arrested at these stages. 

The emergence of second stage concepts involves the differentiation 
of the subject from the source, thus opening the possibility of depend- 
ency at a different level of abstraction. The difference between depend- 
ency in the form of evaluating others as supportive and dependency 
in the form of viewing others in terms of absolutistic control is similar 
to the difference between imitation and symbiotic relatedness. Depend- 
ency in the form of mutuality cannot be experienced until the self and 
the source have been differentiated. 



98 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Second Stage: Negative Independence 

Negative independence represents functioning that is negatively 
related to external constraints. Since such functioning represents a 
lessening of the importance of external control and the initial budding 
of internal control, we use the term, negative independence; the term 
does not imply any necessary hostility or aggression. Hostile reactions 
represent the extreme manifestations of closed second stage relatedness, 
which denotes the arrestation of development at this stage. For progres- 
sion to occur beyond the first stage, the subject must test the limits of 
absolute solutions and rules in order to avoid complete reliance on 
externally given conceptual systems; otherwise he will remain depend- 
ent upon external control. A person working in a problem-solving 
situation, for example, would never attempt an alternative solution 
unless he resisted or questioned the initial solution. Such questioning 
cannot occur if the person feels that the original solution is absolute 
and under the control of the source. 

Second stage concepts represent a differentiation from external forces, 
but such concepts are not highly articulated. However, they are the 
foundations on which informational and interdependent standards can 
develop and represent the initial form of internal control. Put in the 
language of the present conception of development, the person must 
successfully progress through second stage concepts in order to move 
on to the third and fourth stages. 

This stage has been referred to as "freedom from" authoritarian 
control and contrasted with positive freedom, independence, or "free- 
dom to" (Fromm, 1941). Coffey (1954) refers to an early stage of 
"resistance" in group psychotherapy, and Bennis and Shepard ( 1956 ) 
report that group development proceeds from a preoccupation with 
submission to a preoccupation with rebellion. Functioning at this stage 
is characterized by such cliches as "I'll do it myself"; by the emergence 
of "self will." 

A comprehensive study of the emergence of a period of resistance 
in infants and young children has been carried out by Levy (1955). 
He gives many examples, such as "the battle of the spoon" and "clash 
of wills" and includes certain forms of "shyness" in this class. Ac- 
cording to Levy: 

Whatever the measure of non-compliance, — the intelligence test, the 
physical examination, observations of spontaneous behavior, experiments, 
the clinical case record or ordinary inquiry — all studies confirm the ex- 
istence of a period in the early childhood of most children in which 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 99 

negativism is more frequent than in the period preceding or following. . . . 
There was a clear rise in frequency as the age of 18 months was reached, 
and a decided fall in frequency when the age of two years was past. The 
findings were also consistent with the mother's accounts of the child's be- 
havior at home (p. 210). [And later in considering the common features 
of oppositional behavior he states] A number of them appear to have a 
common function of resistance to external influence. This influence would 
determine when an act is to begin, . . . and when it is to end. ... (p. 
213). 

Observations at the Gesell Institute (Ilg and Ames, 1955) indicate 
a period of negativism directly following the "obedient" stages out- 
lined under the first stage (see Table 2). The first onset of second 
stage functioning was observed at about eighteen months and again 
at two and one-half, six, and presumably again, at about eleven. At two 
and one-half behavior was described as: 

He wants exactly what he wants when he wants it. . . . Everything has 
to be done just so. Everything has to be right in the place he considers its 
proper place. . . . With no ability to choose between alternatives . . . the 
child at this age shuttles back and forth endlessly between any two ex- 
tremes, seeming to be trying to include both in his decision. "I will — I 
won't." . . . He wants to go on and on with whatever he is doing (pp. 
25-26). 

This behavior, characterized by conflict between compliance and op- 
position and rituals and stubbornness is an excellent example of the 
transition between first and second stage functioning, which is de- 
scribed in detail in the chapters to follow. 

At two and one-half the conflicting first and second stage tendencies 
do not appear to be well integrated, as shown by the continued vacilla- 
tion between "will-ing" and "won't-ing" as well as by ritualistic be- 
havior. In the next cycle of development from five to ten ( second swing 
of the pendulum in Table 2) children demonstrate the characteristics 
of a more successful transition to second stage conceptual functioning. 
At six years of age, typical behavior is much closer to our description 
of negative independence, internal control, and the avoidance of de- 
pendency. Normative functioning is described as: 

. . . he wants to be the center of his world, even though he hasn't yet 
developed a secure sense of himself [negative independence]. . . . What- 
ever is wrong, Mother gets the blame [externalization of blame]. ... he 
tends to be extremely negative in his response to others. That he has been 
asked to do something is in his eyes sufficient reason for refusing to do it 
[internal control and avoidance of dependency] (Ilg and Ames, 1955, pp. 
34-35). 

The progression to second stage functioning is perhaps the most 
critical point in child development, education, and group development. 



100 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

As Levy states, "Without this resistant character the organism's re- 
sponse would be determined entirely by external stimuli. . . . The 
capacity to resist external influence thus enables the organism to use 
and develop inner controls" (p. 213). Levy also quotes a study by 
Hetzer (1929) who compared two groups of seven-year-old chil- 
dren divided on the presence or absence of a "stubborn period" in 
development. Children who had not gone through the "stubborn pe- 
riod" were significantly more dependent on the teacher's help than 
others. 

The value, therefore, of second stage functioning lies primarily in 
its providing the essential basis for the development of mutuality, 
dependence, and later interdependence. In order to appreciate this 
value, the observer must view this stage in developmental perspective. 
The immediate quality of second stage functioning may strike the 
observer as disagreeable. In contrast to first stage functioning which 
may be viewed as desirable by certain sources, the oppositional quality 
of second stage functioning may be strongly resisted by power-oriented, 
absolutistic sources or by sources who are insecure regarding their 
own status and competence. The immature quality of second stage 
functioning may also prove threatening since it is likely to be less 
predictable or dependable. Despite these immediate, potentially dis- 
agreeable qualities, second stage functioning is an essential stage in 
development. The overthrow of feudalism, authoritarian control, or 
the divine right of kings is analagous to the transition to second stage 
functioning. As Fromm (1941) has so eloquently described, however, 
such revolutions do not magically lead to true independence or inter- 
dependence. In nations, as in individuals, development is assumed to 
proceed through stages, but national development is slower because 
the controlling authority of nations is generally very effective in pro- 
hibiting oppositional behavior. Indeed, first stage functioning, on the 
part of the masses, is usually enforced and held up as a model of citi- 
zenship. In this sense many revolutions, regardless of the change in 
creed, do not represent what we mean by progression; they are power 
battles within the first stage in which the outcome merely changes the 
external authority. 

Transition to the Third Stage (Second Transition) 

The extreme pole of second stage concepts would allow for such 
differentiations as evaluating others as interfering with negative in- 
dependence on the one hand and as models or supportive agents on the 
other. Progression to third stage represents approach tendencies toward, 
openness to, and the successful integration of differentiations based 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 101 

on these opposite poles of the second stage. Only those training con- 
ditions that simultaneously generate differentiations based on opposi- 
tion to external control and dependency on others lead to the emergence 
of third stage concepts; such concepts are open to differentiations 
based on both mutuality and autonomy and allow further progression 
of the second stage conceptual system to dependency ties. The integra- 
tion of the two opposing motivational tendencies in level II transition 
represents the emergence of a new conceptual system in which the 
form of relatedness to objects involves conditional dependence and 
mutuality. As development progresses through these stages the form 
of relatedness becomes progressively less stimulus bound, more rel- 
ativistic, and less unilateral. Although the third stage represents a 
swing toward dependency, this form of dependency is markedly differ- 
ent from that described in the first stage. 

Third Stage: Conditional Dependence and Mutuality 

This stage may be characterized by conditional or "as if" functioning, 
in that it involves learning about one's relationship to the environment 
in a more objective way. The progression is from externally derived 
structure (first stage) through resistance to external control (second 
stage) and, if this can be achieved, to a more empirical approach in 
the third stage. The history of science appears to follow a similar 
developmental course, beginning first with primitive forms of dogma, 
then going through a stage of questioning, and then adopting em- 
piricism. In experimental work on problem solving the questioning or 
oppositional second stage may be momentary because of the peripheral 
relationship of the subject to the problem. However, in science, in the 
development of groups, and in child development, the second stage 
may be the most critical. 

In social behavior the transition is from a stage of opposition to other 
people's attitudes or intentions ( an exaggerated bifurcation of self and 
external forces) to a stage in which other people's intentions and 
wishes are taken into account. As third stage concepts emerge, a more 
objective view of the social environment becomes possible. The person 
in the third stage views other people less subjectively (that is, less in 
terms of his own motives and less in terms of absolute standards ) and 
more in terms of other's standards and past experience. His under- 
standing of other points of view, rather than resisting or submitting to 
them, makes mutual relationships possible. Third stage functioning 
also involves holding alternative views of the self, of events, and of 
others simultaneously with a minimum of concern for ambiguity. 



102 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Piaget's study of the development of moral concepts in children is 
illustrative: 

There is no doubt that by adopting a certain technique with their 
children, parents can succeed in making them attach more importance to 
intentions than to rules conceived as a system of ritual interdictions. . . . 
It is when the child is accustomed to act from the point of view of those 
around him, when he tries to please rather than to obey, that he will judge 
in terms of intentions. So that taking intentions into account presupposes 
cooperation and mutual respect. ... In order to remove all traces of 
moral realism, one must place oneself on the child's own level, and give 
him a feeling of equality by laying stress on one's own obligations and one's 
own deficiencies . . . thus creating an atmosphere of mutual help and 
understanding. In this way the child will find himself in the presence, not 
of a system of commands requiring ritualistic and external obedience, but 
of a system of social relations such that everyone does his best to obey the 
same obligations, and does so out of mutual respect. The passage from 
obedience to cooperation thus marks a progression analogous to that of 
which we saw the effects in the evolution of the game of marbles: only in 
the final stage does the morality of intention triumph over the morality of 
objective responsibility (Piaget, 1932, pp. 133-134). 

In this passage Piaget is emphasizing a form of relatedness between 
the subject and the rule rather than changes in behavior toward a 
rule. The two forms of relatedness he describes are very similar to the 
present first and third stages. In describing moral realism, Piaget points 
out that justice is defined in terms of adult authority or an external 
criterion that is absolute and does not change with situational changes. 
This stage is equivalent to our first stage functioning and, according 
to Piaget, is typical of children below seven or eight years of age; l 
on the other hand, the functioning described by Piaget above, which 
is similar to the third stage, is more typical of children between the 
ages of eight and eleven. Studies indicate that reciprocity, defined as 
"eye for an eye" and representing aspects of the first and second stages 
in our sense, descreases with age (Durkin, 1959a, 1959b) whereas 
empathic behavior or mutuality increases (Piaget, 1932). Also, younger 
children are more absolutistic, whereas older children ( eighth graders ) 
show overt concern for possible mitigating factors in the interpersonal 
situation being judged (Durkin, 1959b). 

Group functioning in the third stage is characterized by cooperation 
instead of submission and by competition rather than dominance and 
opposition. Although third stage functioning is essential for the occur- 

1 It should be noted that the age at which children pass through these stages 
will vary across different content areas. Here Piaget is speaking of the development 
of the abstractness of moral concepts. Earlier we were speaking of the abstractness 
of a child's level of functioning in relationship to his parents. 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 103 

rence of cooperation, many individuals use the words cooperation and 
competition for functioning that is clearly at the unilateral or oppo- 
sitional level and, as Bennis and Shepard (1956) observe, it is just 
such individuals who tend to retard group development. These authors 
observe that at this third stage: 

The power problem is resolved by being defined in terms of member 
responsibilities, . . . [and,] at least within the life of the group, later 
activity is rarely perceived in terms of submission and rebellion (Bennis 
and Shepard, 1956, p. 424), [and further that] any slight increase in tension 
is instantly dissipated by joking and laughter. The fighting of Phase I [the 
second stage] is still fresh in the memory of the group, and the group's 
efforts are devoted to patching up differences, healing wounds, and main- 
taining a harmonious atmosphere (Bennis and Shepard, 1956, p. 429). 

One of the most significant aspects of the transition from the second 
to the third stage is the change in the conception of causality. Although 
the foundation for this change is established by earlier stages, at the 
third stage the individual's behavior becomes the independent rather 
than the dependent variable. In attempting to integrate counterpersonal 
and mutual evaluations the person functioning at this stage is more 
likelv to think in terms of the locus of causality residing primarily in 
his own behavior. 

The rule of constraint, which is bound up with unilateral respect, is re- 
garded as sacred and produces in the child's mind feelings that are anal- 
ogous to those which characterize the compulsory conformity of primitive 
communities [first stage]. But this rule of constraint remains external to the 
child's spirit and does not lead to as effective an obedience as the adult 
would wish. Rules due to mutual agreement and cooperation, on the con- 
trary, take root inside the child's mind and result in an effective observance 
in the measure in which they are incorporated in an autonomous will 
[third stage] (Piaget, 1932, p. 365). 

In social behavior the third stage represents an empirical phase, 
similar to the data-gathering phase in science. The person reacts in 
alternative ways toward others in order to experience their reactions. 
By observing the reactions of others to his own reactions and finding 
out more about their standards, he is better able to control the conse- 
quences of his own behavior and learn about his own characteristics 
and limitations. It is as if he were using the environment, or other 
people's standards, as a mirror to develop a more abstract criterion of 
his own behavior. Coolev (1912) refers to this procedure as the 
"looking-glass self." During this stage mutuality, obtaining satisfaction 
from pleasing others, and empathy replace unilateral functioning and 
concern with dominance and power. A new basis for relating to people 
is established. 



104 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Taking on the roles of other persons can be viewed in terms of the 
subject's setting up hypotheses and carrying out experiments on the 
effects of his own social behavior. An excellent account of this process, 
referred to as "conversation of gestures," has been given by G. H. 
Mead (1934) and more recently by Sarbin (1954). The net effect is 
the emergence of a more objective understanding of the relationships 
between the subject and his environment. Make-believe play in child- 
hood and the intensive role-taking behavior of adolescents are char- 
acteristic of third stage functioning. On this basis, we would expect 
that the absence of make-believe play and role taking would be as- 
sociated with arrestation of progressive development at some more 
concrete level. The significance of third stage functioning for social 
development is impressively demonstrated by Kelly ( 1955) who utilizes 
the technique of role-therapy to induce modifications in conceptual 
organization. 

In child development functioning more typical of the transition from 
the second to the third stage and of the third stage is modal at ages 
three, seven and eight, and again perhaps at fourteen and fifteen. Ob- 
servations indicate that each phase or cycle of third stage functioning 
is preceded by a stage of opposition, "out of bounds behavior" or 
negative independence (Ilg and Ames, 1955). For the infant at age 
three typical functioning is described as: 

Quiet. . . . seems to love to conform. . . . uses the word "Yes" quite 
as easily as he formerly used the word "No" . . . likes to give as well as 
take . . . "We" is another word he uses frequently. It expresses his co- 
operative, easy-going attitude towards life in general. ... He no longer 
seems to need the protection of rituals [that is, he has progressed beyond 
level II transitional functioning]. . . . The child is no longer rigid, in- 
flexible, domineering. ... He likes to make friends and will often willingly 
give up a toy or privilege in order to stay in the good graces of some other 
person. . . . (p. 27). 

No doubt the advent of language has much to do with this initial 
progression to third stage functioning in infancy, and we would ex- 
pect an association between speech problems and increasing difficulties 
in developmental transition to the third stage. 

As we found in second stage functioning in the first infant cycle 
(age two to four and one-half), the first cycle of third stage function- 
ing does not represent a complete transition. When this stage is reached 
in early childhood it is less differentiated from the first stage and does 
not represent the level of empathy and "subjective responsibility" 
described above. In the second cycle in Table 2, the occurrence of 
third stage functioning at around seven or eight years of age, the 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 105 

effect of the conflicting differentiations ( based on the counter personal 
and dependent poles of the concepts) and representing transition to 
the third stage, is more clearly apparent. 

At age seven the modal behaviors observed (Ilg and Ames, 1955) 
are typically transitional (between second and third stages) as illus- 
trated by the following descriptions: 

Seven . . . has calmed down [from earlier oppositional tendencies]. 
. . . But he is more likely to complain [seek support]. . . . More apt to 
retreat from the scene muttering than to stay and demand his own [more 
covert oppositional tendencies. Opposition has been tempered by conflicting 
dependency evaluations]. . . . He often demands too much of himself 
[over-striving represents self-assertion and insures that he will be cared 
for]. . . . tends to feel that people are against him, that they don't like 
him [emergence of sensitization to rejection by others due to his oppositional 
tendencies] (Ilg and Ames, 1955, p. 36). 

As we indicate in later chapters, these characteristics, along with the 
tendency to dramatize everything, are typical of the transition from the 
second to the third stage and characterize the functioning of individuals 
when progressive development is arrested at this transitional level 
(Chapter 6). 

Following the difficult transition period at seven, modal behavior 
at eight is described as less conflicting and, in some respects, more 
characteristic of third stage functioning: 

... he is constantly busy and active . . . enjoying new experiences 
. . . trying out new things, making new friends [the empirical attitude]. 
. . . with his newly increased powers of evaluation, he may recognize his 
all-too-frequent failures. Then, tears and self-disparagement! [the emergence 
of internal causation and self -blame]. . . . He needs protection both from 
trying to do too much and from too excessive self-criticism when he meets 
with failure [behavior leading to support and protection from others and 
the emergence of depressive feelings]. . . . Now he is interested, not just 
in how people treat him, but in his relationships with others. He is ready 
for, and wants, a good two-way relationship [mutuality]. Furthermore, it 
is not just what people do which concerns him, but also what they think 
[sensitization to relationships and learning about the effect of his own 
reactions on others] (Ilg and Ames, 1955, pp. 37-38). 

Transition to the Fourth Stage: (Third Transition) 

Since the evaluations and judgments at the third stage are based 
largely on the effect that one's reactions have on others, we have used 
such terms as conditional dependence, empiricism, and "the looking- 
glass self." Just as empiricism is tied to data, so the third stage 
evaluations are dependent upon the standards of others. The subject 



106 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

is dependent upon external conditions or upon observations of the 
effect of his own behavior. 

The extreme pole of this conceptual system would represent evalua- 
tions based on autonomous standards. Transition to the fourth stage 
requires openness to differentiations based on autonomy and represents 
the integration of differentiations based on mutuality and autonomy. 

In order for a person to experience autonomy as positive and not 
conflicting with mutuality, he must view both poles of the third stage 
as positive. If the training conditions have produced such structure, 
then the way is open for the integration of mutuality and autonomy, 
which leads to the emergence of a fourth stage conceptual system in- 
volving interdependence of informational standards. Interdependent 
evaluations represent what we assume to be the most abstract level of 
conceptual development. 

Fourth Stage: Interdependence 

In the fourth stage mutuality and autonomy are integrated so that 
neither interferes with the other and yet both are important. We refer 
to this integration as positive interdependence. The nature of subject- 
object linkages at this level is abstract, interdependent, and informa- 
tional. The abstractness and lack of subjectivity are exemplified by the 
characteristics of group functioning that Bennis and Shepard ( 1956 ) , 
following Sullivan (1953), call "consensual validation," which was ob- 
served to follow the more compulsively cooperative phase. 

Its chief characteristic is the willingness and ability of group members 
to validate their self-concepts with other members. The fear of rejection 
fades when tested against reality. The tensions that developed as a result 
of these fears diminish in the light of actual discussion of member roles. 
. . . what ensues is a serious attempt by each group member to verbalize 
his private conceptual scheme for understanding human behavior — his own 
and that of others. Bringing these assumptions into explicit communication 
is the main work of subphase 6. This activity demands a high level of work 
and of communicative skill. Some of the values that appear to underlie the 
group's work during this subphase are as follows: 1. Members can accept 
one another's differences without associating "good" and "bad" with the 
differences. 2. Conflict exists but is over substantive issues rather than 
emotional issues. 3. Consensus is reached as a result of rational dis- 
cussion rather than through a compulsive attempt at unanimity. 4. Members 
are aware of their own involvement, and of other aspects of group process, 
without being overwhelmed or alarmed. 5. Through the evaluation process, 
members take on greater personal meaning to each other. This facilitates 
communication and creates a deeper understanding of how the other 
person thinks, feels, behaves; it creates a series of personal expectations, as 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 107 

distinguished from the previous, more stereotyped, role expectations ( Bennis 
and Shepard, 1956, p. 433). 

In the field of personality Fromm (1941) and Erikson (1950) de- 
scribe higher levels of development as involving the interdependence 
of mutuality (love) and autonomous informational standards against 
which instrumental activity (work) is judged. Such interdependence 
frees relationships from constrictions due to power, resistance to con- 
trol, or fears of rejection, thus permitting a more abstract and ob- 
jective form of understanding and participation with others. On the 
basis of the development of autonomous informational standards the 
individual can experience rewards, as a result of instrumental activity 
or work, in terms of his own past experience rather than being depend- 
ent on some external source. Erikson (1950) portrays the significance 
of this level of development as follows: 

I know no better word for it than ego integrity. Lacking a clear definition, 
I shall point to a few constituents of this state of mind. ... It is a post- 
narcissistic love of the human ego — not of the self — as an experience which 
conveys some world order and spiritual sense, no matter how dearly paid 
for. It is the acceptance of one's one and only life cycle as something that 
had to be and that, by necessity, permitted of no substitutions : it thus means 
a new, and different love of one's parents. . . . Although aware of the 
relativity of all the various life styles which have given meaning to human 
striving, the possessor of integrity is ready to defend the dignity of his own 
life style against all physical and economic threats. For he knows that an 
individual life is the accidental coincidence of but one life cycle with but 
one segment of history; and that for him all human integrity stands or falls 
with the one style of integrity of which he partakes (Erikson, 1950, pp. 231- 
232). 

In child development the earliest observations of behavior typical 
of the transition to fourth stage functioning are reported around nine 
years old, that is, in the second cycle of development shown in Table 2. 
In the first cycle of development in infancy the modal child appears 
to show tendencies toward the development of third stage concepts 
but this development is an insufficient base for progression to any 
form of interdependence. Instead, the child's growing confidence in 
his abilities leads to a negative form of independence between the 
ages of three and one-half and four and one-half. But with the new 
social conditions and problems that arise around five the pendulum 
swings back to a greater reliance on external control. During this cycle 
(cycle II) conceptual development approaches or reaches the fourth 
stage for some children as illustrated by the following descriptions of 
modal behavior for nine-year-old children : 



108 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

He lives more within himself, is surer in his contacts with the outside 
world, is more self-contained and self-sufficient . . . often insists on being 
extremely independent [conflict over autonomy] . . . though [he] may be 
interested in adults ... he is much less interested than he was earlier in 
the relationship itself [less sensitivity to maintaining relationships and re- 
jections]. . . . He wants and needs to have his maturity, his independence 
and his separateness [autonomy] respected. ... if treated as the mature 
creature he considers himself to be, the 9-year-old usually gets along pretty 
well and does display a remarkable amount of self-reliance and capability. 
. . . However, there is a disquieting side . . . He does tend to worry 
. . . and . . . can be extremely anxious. . . . (Ilg and Ames, 1955, pp. 
38-39). 

It will be noted that these descriptive statements are quite different 
from functioning at the earlier three stages. The functioning of typical 
nine-year-olds represents a transition to the fourth stage rather than 
progression to full interdependence. Progression to interdependent 
functioning of the fourth stage is more likely in the adolescent cycle 
of development. The increasing reliance upon internal causation in 
the fourth stage is characterized by a strengthened capacity to face 
problems and to tolerate anxiety. The initial transition to the fourth 
stage may produce anxiety and worry, as observed above, but once the 
conceptual system becomes stabilized, such reactions are much less 
likely. Therefore, the subject not only develops autonomous skills and 
informational standards for problem solution but also a high degree of 
tolerance of anxiety and resistance to stress. The implication is that 
future adaptation to threat involves progressive development, as op- 
posed to the warding off or defensive tendencies that lead to increas- 
ingly closed conceptual functioning. 

The most general characteristic of such abstract functioning is 
resistance to stress. As more abstract forms of subject-object linkages 
develop there is greater self -awareness. It is this greater self -awareness 
or attribution of internal causation that is critical for stress tolerance 
as will become increasingly clear in later chapters. More abstract 
functioning is based on a conceptual system that has been open to a 
variety of conflicting forms of subject-object relatedness that have 
been progressively integrated during development. Consequently there 
is a greater reservoir of resources to overcome and withstand stress of 
various forms — failure, control, rejection, or isolation. An individual 
approaching a problem in a concrete way, with a single fixed solution, 
will continue to use the same solution in spite of situational changes. 
However, when he eventually fails, he will develop avoidance and 
other defensive orientations including the blind acceptance of some 
other externally anchored solution because of his undifferentiated 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 109 

conceptual structure and his lack of self-awareness. Concrete function- 
ing may be characterized by more decisiveness, but it breaks down 
more rapidly under stress. Abstract functioning is less categorical, but 
it has a greater potential to mobilize under the impact of stress. 

In problem solving as in science we would associate this level of 
development with that of theory, if the term "theory" is used in the 
sense of a systematic body of abstract informational standards that 
develop over time. Like any other area, however, scientific theory or 
problem solution can be taught to produce arrestation at any stage, 
for example, so that the subject would accept theoretical tenets 
concretistically in terms of the first stage, as fixed and beyond his 
control. 

Fourth stage functioning is characterized by abstract standards 
developed through the exploration of alternative solutions against a 
variety of criteria. These standards are systematically related to the 
informational consequences of exploration and as such are "tools," 
not masters, since they are subject to change under changing conditions. 
Abstract functioning is characterized both by the availability of alter- 
nate conceptual schemata as a basis for relating and by the ability to 
hold a strong view or attitude that does not distort incoming informa- 
tion. 

Some General Considerations 

We began this chapter with assumptions organized in terms of the 
course, process, and results of development. Having considered the four 
stages in some detail we conclude this chapter with comments or- 
ganized around the same three areas. 

Progressive Development Implies 
Increasing Abstractness 

In this chapter we have emphasized stages involved in the develop- 
ment of increasing abstractness of subject-object linkages. We have 
also emphasized the more central ties in the self-system, stressing 
personality characteristics and social functioning. Because of this 
emphasis on the process of development, however, we should not 
overlook the importance of studies that have demonstrated that in 
general children do relate to their world in a more concretistic, less 
differentiated way, when compared to adults ( Lazarus, Baker, Brover- 
man, and Mayer, 1957; Werner, 1957; Piaget, 1954). These studies have 
emphasized the abstractness of a subject's relatedness to tasks or the 
abstractness of perception. Older children are more abstract than 



110 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

younger children, in the sense that functioning or perception is less 
diffuse, less absolutistic, less all-or-none, less stimulus-bound, and more 
differentiated. Older children can generally break a stimulus field down 
into its parts and integrate these into new wholes more effectively than 
younger children. 

If concreteness-abstractness refers to the nature of the linkage to 
objects, for example, to mathematics or religion and not to the content 
or magnitude of such attitudes, then there is no need for the artificial 
division between a psychology of abilities on the one hand and a 
psychology of personality on. the other. Concreteness and abstractness 
are equally relevant to functioning directed toward problems or tasks 
and functioning directed toward politics, religion, or other people. In 
all of these, progressive development can be described in directional 
terms, as proceeding from the concrete to the abstract. It should be 
noted, however, that there is a great need for more research to shed 
light on this concrete-abstract dimension. Such research has two 
requirements : first that the investigator does not impose environmental 
pressures that would retard the course of progression and second 
that each individual be studied as an individual and not in terms of 
normative measures at given points in time (that is, the measurement 
of progressive development should be made in terms of individuals, 
not the average of individuals ) . Both requirements are absent in much 
psychological research due to the highly controlled and artificial nature 
of training sequences (restricting progression) and the normative 
treatment of data based on groups of individuals, as opposed to the as- 
sessment of the course of progression in each unit being studied. 

Interrelations of Saccadic 
and Cyclical Development 

The assumed course of development charted in Table 2 includes 
both saccadic and cyclical movement. The most important rule deter- 
mining such movement is : if the situation changes markedly ( as occurs 
during certain periods of child development), then a cyclical move- 
ment occurs in which functioning reverts to a more concretistic level. 
The basis for this cyclical reversion to first stage functioning when 
faced by highly novel circumstances is that of the greater reliance upon 
absolutistic or external control relative to earlier functioning in more 
familiar circumstances. Following this reversion to first stage function- 
ing, development once again proceeds in a saccadic fashion. 

It follows from this analysis that any rapid change (whether ex- 
perimentally or naturalistically induced) that produces a cyclical re- 
version to first stage functioning thereby precludes progressive develop- 



STAGES OF CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 111 

ment beyond a certain level of abstractness. The relationship between 
cyclical and saccadic movement therefore determines the maximum 
rate of change at which any form of change, whether experimental, 
cultural, or social, can occur without leading to a decrease in the 
potential abstractness of further saccadic movements. 

Determining the most appropriate synchronization of saccadic and 
cyclical development would appear to be a major problem in numerous 
areas: determining the stage at which a child should enter school or 
be placed in a more complex situation, determining the effects of 
social mobility in the broad sense, and so forth. Such decisions would 
presumably be based upon the person's reaching the maximum level 
of abstractness through saccadic movement within a particular cycle 
of development before introducing the novel circumstances. The in- 
troduction of novel situations prior to reaching a level of maximum 
abstractness may not appear to affect his behavior adversely im- 
mediately (for example, in entering kindergarten) because the change 
involves a cyclical swing back toward the first stage, which is es- 
sentially independent of the earlier level reached. However, such 
reversion would affect the rate of progression beyond the stage of 
abstractness reached in the original cycle. 

The Generality of Developmental Stages 

As we have indicated briefly, a person need not reach the same level 
of abstractness of subject-object ties in all areas of development. In- 
dividuals vary considerably in terms of the generality of their stage 
of functioning. Some persons may reach the fourth stage in many 
areas of development whereas other persons may function at the fourth 
stage in some areas, but at the second stage in other areas. It is not 
difficult to find someone, for example, who functions at a very abstract 
level at work, such as in physics, but functions at a very concrete level 
in other areas. The problem of the generality-specificity of conceptual 
functioning is one of the most important areas for subsequent research. 
Although there is very little evidence available we will summarize a 
few tentative views regarding generality: 

1. Areas of development that engage the same conceptual system 
are more closely related functionally for the individual because of the 
similarity of the underlying motivational orientation ( Rotter, 1954 ) . 

2. The more that significant areas activate the same level of con- 
ceptual functioning, the more integrated is the self system. 

3. Reaching an abstract level of development in one area enhances 
the likelihood of reaching that same level in other areas of develop- 
ment. 



112 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

4. The more closely related the areas in terms of stimulus similarity, 
the greater is the likelihood of generality. 

5. The more similar the training in the two areas, the greater is the 
likelihood of generality. 

Following the third assumption, we would expect that the level of 
development at one age level would be statistically indicative of the 
potential level of development at some future time. 

Concluding Remarks 

We have argued that progressive development to more abstract 
levels of functioning rests on the occurrence and integration of par- 
ticular kinds of differentiations. From our assumptions, for example, 
it follows that the initial absence of externally derived supports, control, 
or structure as in an ambiguous situation (that is, absence of external 
structure ) leads to the retardation or arrestation of progressive develop- 
ment at some point in the developmental ladder. This follows because 
we assume that one of the foundations for further progressive develop- 
ment is the integration of differentiations based on externally derived 
structure and internal opposition to it. Training conditions that restrict 
the emergence of the concepts proposed would be expected to result 
in the arrestation of progressive development at some point below 
the fourth stage. We turn now to a direct consideration of the inter- 
action between stages and training methods. 



5 Training Conditions 

Influencing Conceptual 

Development 



How do training conditions affect the course of development? 
Throughout this book all cognitive outcomes are viewed as being 
conjointly determined by situational and dispositional factors operating 
at a particular time. That is, conceptual development progresses as 
environmental pressures ( training conditions ) interact with a particular 
conceptual state of an organism. In the last chapter we dealt with some 
of these nodal conceptual states as "stages," and in this chapter we 
deal with the interactive effect of various environmental "presses" 
on these conceptual structures. 

That we described stages before training conditions does not imply 
that the "push" in stages is assumed to be more important than the 
"pull" of environmental training conditions. In describing conceptual 
development we could have begun by describing the training con- 
ditions before the stages. In following this order we would first have 
dimensionalized the training conditions and then used these con- 
ditions as a basis for deriving the stages. The derivation would rest on 
logic as follows: "Given these various forms of training, what kinds of 
adaptive orientations (stages) would emerge as the object of train- 
ing (the person) attempted to cope with this condition?" 

However, we are proceeding by describing first the stages through 
which conceptual development is assumed to occur and then present- 
ing the training conditions. Therefore, the logic underlying the present 
dimensionalization of training conditions involves the following: 
"Given these conceptual stages, what forms of training would be likely 
to produce progression or arrestation at each of these various stages?" 
It should be noted that, regardless of order, the central principle is the 
hand-in-glove interdependence between stage and training condition, 
which rests on the assumption that the organism is continuously adapt- 

113 



114 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

ing to whatever environmental conditions are encountered. Once we 
have set forth both sets of factors, then we may view their joint 
consequences as we do later in this chapter. 

Principles of Progression and Arrestation 

In the last chapter, three principles related to the degree of synchrony 
between training condition and articulation at a particular stage were 
set forth. The application of these principles to the four stages of 
development summarized in Table 3 will serve as a starting point 
for dimensionalizing training. However, in order to understand Table 
3 it is important to distinguish between two forms of arrestation: nodal 
arrestation ( or what was referred to in the last chapter as "arrestation 
at a given stage") and transitional arrestation. By nodal arrestation we 
mean the arrestation of progressive development at any stage in 
progressing to fourth stage functioning, that is, at the first, second, or 
third stage. Nodal, in the Oxford dictionary, is defined as "a line or 
point of absolute or comparative rest in a vibrating body or surface 
... a stopping or starting point." We use it in this sense in order to 
differentiate it from transitional arrestation, which implies the ar- 
restation of progressive development at some point between any two 
nodal stages. 

Nodal Arrestation 

In the last chapter we noted that if the training conditions ( environ- 
mental pressures ) are out of synchrony with the degree of conceptual 
articulation in such a way that one pole is positive and the other pole 
is negative, nodal arrestation will occur. Put in more specific terms, 
nodal arrestation is induced by training conditions that maximize open- 
ness of the conceptual system to one pole of the central structure while 
maximizing closedness 1 to differentiations based on the opposite pole 
(see Table 1 on p. 88, and the left-hand column in Table 3). Under 
these conditions no developmental "leap" occurs, and therefore integra- 
tion required for the emergence of a new conceptual schema and 

1 Closedness and arrestation may have identical meanings under some circum- 
stances. However, the two terms should be clearly differentiated. Arrestation is 
more specific in that it refers to closedness to particular kinds of differentiations- 
those differentiations that would be required for the development of more abstract 
syntheses. Closedness is used to refer to the avoidance or neutralization of any set 
of conditions. That is, arrestation implies closedness to differentiations required for 
more abstract development; closedness could also refer to differentiations utilized 
at more concretistic levels as well. 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 115 

progression does not occur. As Table 3 indicates, arrestation may occur 
at any stage of development. For example, if training induces closed- 
ness to differentiations based on independence from external field 
forces or control during first stage functioning, second stage concepts 
cannot emerge. On a similar basis, training that maximized closedness 
of the conceptual system to differentiations based on dependency and 
support after second stage concepts have fully emerged and on auton- 
omy after the emergence of fourth stage concepts would be expected 
to be associated with nodal arrestation at stages II and IV, respectively. 
The arrestation of development at the first stage is not meant to 
imply that the subject will remain exactly like a child or that the 
arrestation of development of an attitude at the first stage would mean 
that the functioning in relation to the attitude object would remain 
exactly the same over time. Rather, arrestation refers to the concrete- 
abstract dimension. After arrestation, development continues within 
the conceptual limits of the stage reached. There are other components 
of functioning, more phenotypical than the concrete-abstract dimension, 
which vary, to some degree, within a given level or stage of function- 
ing. Some of these characteristics are discussed in Chapter 6. 

Transitional Arrestation 

In Chapter 4 we noted that if the training condition is out of 
synchrony with the conceptual articulation in such a way that each of 
the two poles becomes both positive and negative, transitional arresta- 
tion will occur. Put more specifically, transitional arrestation is due to 
training conditions that induce some degree of openness of the con- 
ceptual system to the conflicting differentiations based on both poles 
of the central concepts but minimizes the conditions for their integra- 
tion. Partial openness or partial closedness, involving simultaneous 
approach and avoidant evaluations of each conceptual pole, would be 
expected to produce such an effect. Transitional arrestation may occur 
between stages I and II, between II and III, and between III and IV, 
representing three levels of abstractness of conflicting systems of sub- 
ject-object relatedness. The three levels will be referred to as level I, 
level II, and level III transitional arrestation, respectively. 

Progressive Development 

As we maintained in the last chapter, if the training conditions (en- 
vironmental pressures ) are synchronized with the degree of conceptual 
articulation, progression will occur. More specifically, progression at 
any stage of development requires training characteristics that (1) 
induce openness of the conceptual system to developmental leaps 



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118 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

required for progression, or to put this another way, openness to 
evaluations or differentiations based on both poles of a particular con- 
ceptual system, and (2) favor the integration of these two extreme 
sets of differentiations. 

Distinction between Functioning Characterized 
by Arrestation or Progression 
at Each Level 

The conceptual structure of systems representing nodal arrestation, 
transitional arrestation, and progression at each stage is illustrated in 
Table 3. It is important to distinguish between these three related struc- 
tures at each stage of development. 

Nodal arrestation at any stage implies closedness to one pole and 
a lack of conflict in the subject-object ties; transitional arrestation at 
any level implies partial closedness or approach and avoidant tend- 
encies to both poles and highly conflicting subject-object ties; whereas 
progression implies a maximum degree of openness to differentiations 
or interpretations based on both poles. The distinction between func- 
tioning that is relatively arrested at a given stage and functioning at 
the same stage that represents a "passing through" or progression is 
a highly important distinction in personality measurement and di- 
agnosis. Assessing the extent to which a system is in progression in- 
volves determining the degree of closedness and conflict in relation to 
each pole at each stage. 

When considered in relation to training methods, the notion of 
stages of development unfortunately becomes much more complex than 
the descriptions contained in the last chapter. 

Functioning at a given stage is assumed to vary as a consequence of 
training method. The difference between arrested functioning and 
progressive functioning within a given stage illustrates the limits of 
this variation. However, as we indicate in this chapter, there are finer 
discriminations between these two extremes, which rest on intermediate 
training methods and which are more difficult to assess. That is, differ- 
ent training methods generate different conceptual linkages and differ- 
ent levels of functioning immediately, at the first stage, and at each 
successive stage reached beyond this stage. However, the degree of 
progression to more abstract levels is still viewed in terms of the 
extent to which the environmental pressures (training conditions) 
permit the appropriate differentiations and integrations in the order 
proposed in the last chapter. Therefore, training conditions affect the 
nature and rate at which development progresses. 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 119 

Dimensions of Training Conditions 

The most general question to which we now turn is, "What training 
conditions are associated with closedness or openness to poles at each 
stage?" We derive two primary dimensions along which training 
methods can be ordered: (1) The unilateral -interdependent dimension, 
which is the most generic form of ordering, and (2) a more specific 
dimension referring to the imposition of control within each pole of 
the more general dimension. This more specific dimension considers 
(a) the reliable-unreliable dimension assumed to be relevant to the 
imposition of unilateral training methods and (b) the protective- 
informational dimension assumed to be relevant to the imposition of 
interdependent training methods. A further, more specific training 
dimension, which refers primarily to the inhibition of system specific 
tendencies, is discussed in Chapter 6. 

It is appropriate at this point to re-emphasize that our concern is 
in the dimensionalization of training conditions, not in the content or 
goal of training. From our point of view the goal of training or its 
content may have little relationship to what the subject really learns 
as he copes with the environmental pressures. Since the present focus 
is upon the nature of the relatedness formed, or the nature of the 
concepts established, we are concerned with a systematic dimensionali- 
zation of these environmental pressures or methods of training. 

Unilateral-Interdependent Dimension 

In discussing the development of mediating concepts, training con- 
ditions are described as varying along a dimension from unilateral to 
interdependent methods. This generic dimension along which training 

TABLE 4 

Unilateral-Interdependent Training Dimension 

Accelerated 
Unilateral Autonomy Interdependent 

Consequences Subject learns to look Subject learns to view 
externally for criteria own behavior as caus- 
of matching; to fit al in concept forma- 
stimuli into absolutis- tion; to utilize hypo- 
tic schemata. External thetical concepts for 
causation. informational apprais- 
al. Internal causation. 



120 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

conditions can be scaled extends ( 1 ) from a point at which the training 
agent presents the schemata of mapping or a ready-made concept to 
the subject (2) to a point at which the training agent does not pro- 
vide an externally derived concept for mediating between situational 
effects and resolutions. If we assume that both training agents have 
the same goal in mind, regardless of the method employed, it is ap- 
parent that these two extreme classes of training present a very different 
set of environmental pressures with which the subject must cope. In 
adapting to the latter situation the subject must learn an appropriate 
conceptual orientation autonomously. 

In coping with unilateral training in which the training situation 
provides ready-made concepts, the subject learns to fit responses or 
evaluations to stimuli or situational conditions so that they match the 
function expressed by the concept. Having established the concept, the 
training agent's role is also channeled along the lines of rewarding 
matchings that fit the stated concept and punishing matchings that 
fail to fit. As a consequence the subjects' responses are viewed pri- 
marily in terms of being right or wrong, good or bad. Put another way, 
the subject is extrinsically valued (Ausubel, 1958). 

In coping with interdependent training on the other hand, the sub- 
ject has no preestablished inflexible concept to learn. Since the concept 
is not implicitly or explicitly provided, the training agent desiring that 
the subject learn to function effectively in reference to some goal must 
control the environment in some systematic way so that the desired 
concept will emerge. In the extreme case, the environment would be 
arranged so that the subject would experience informational conse- 
quences about exploratory matchings, which would lead him to develop 
certain concepts in the situation. Here the role of the training agent is 
to manipulate the environment and to encourage exploratory activity. 
In the hypothetical pure case of interdependent training, the subject's 
reactions are determined by the informational consequences of action, 
and the subject is intrinsically valued for instrumental or exploratory 
maneuvers in their own right as opposed to achievement in reference 
to a fixed concept (Ausubel, 1952). 

From a point in the center of this dimension (Table 4), which we 
will refer to as "permissive" or accelerated autonomy training, to the 
left training becomes increasingly unilateral and to the right it be- 
comes increasingly interdependent. Each major training method is now 
discussed. 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 121 



UNILATERAL TRAINING 

Operations for unilateral training. Operations for unilateral training 
are ( 1 ) external source determination of absolute criterion for behavior, 
(2) rewards and punishment directed toward these ends, and (3) 
extrinsic evaluation ( Ausubel, 1952, 1958 ) of the subject. 

The distinction between unilateral and interdependent training is 
not simply a matter of the goal of the training agent since we assume 
that almost all training involves a goal of some kind. The distinction is 
based rather on the extent to which the goal involves an end that is 
absolute and externally fixed. Unilateral training is characterized by a 
greater rigidity, immediacy, and explicitness in the way by which the 
source reacts to the end product of the subject's behavior. The criterion 
is explicitly and directly determined by the source. Source-determined 
goals can be expressed to the subject either directly or indirectly. Direct 
expression involves orders, directions, and explicit statements regarding 
final response requirements, whereas indirect expression involves the 
source's implicit use of a predetermined criterion. In either case the 
source's administration of rewards or punishments is determined by 
the degree to which the subject's behavior is in accord with the standard 
held by the source. 

The distinction between unilateral and interdependent training, 
therefore, cannot be based on the occurrence of rewards and punish- 
ment but is rather a matter of the focus of rewards and punishment. 
Unilateral training is characterized by the source's judging the subject's 
behavior in terms of how well responses match some external criterion, 
and it is on this basis that we use the term, extrinsic evaluation 
(Ausubel, 1958). The subject is valued in terms of his achievement 
relative to some external criterion held by the source rather than for 
himself. The three operations for unilateral training — source-determined 
criteria, reward and punishment focused on ends of behavior, and ex- 
trinsic evaluation — should prove to be highly interrelated. However, in 
practice, a single operation may not provide a sufficient basis for the 
classification of training conditions. Training could be considered uni- 
lateral without direct source expression of the criterion (indirect ex- 
pression ) , but such uncertainty in classifying could be clarified by noting 
the focus of rewards and punishments. Furthermore, if an investigator 
were unable to observe the training conditions directly, it might be 
possible to infer unilateral training on the basis of the source's expres- 
sion of attitudes congruent with the extrinsic evaluation of the subject. 

The occurrence of exploratory activity or activity that is tangential 
to the externally derived criteria is likely to be either ignored or pun- 



122 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

ished under unilateral training conditions. Unilateral training is char- 
acterized by a maximum of behavioral manipulation of the subject and 
a minimum of environmental manipulation by the source. The subject's 
achievement or end product of his behavior is central in training. The 
judgment of this end product is made against an external criterion in 
a black-white fashion, that is, right or wrong, good or bad. It was in 
this categorical, controlling sense that this training condition was de- 
scribed as behavior-control training (Schroder and Hunt, 1959). 

Examples of unilateral training. One of the best examples of unilateral 
training is the autocratic atmosphere created by Lewin, Lippitt, and 
White ( 1939 ) in their classic group experiment. Autocratic atmosphere 
involved the following: all policy determination was in the hands of 
the leader, all steps were dictated, and the leader was clearly the 
source of control. 

Many terms have been used to describe child-rearing practices 
similar to unilateral training: domineering, authoritarian, and so forth. 
Several of the Fels' behavior-rating scales (Baldwin, Kalhorn, and 
Breese, 1949) have been constructed to assess the extent to which the 
parent was the source of the control. Although the scales do not specif- 
ically refer to the focus of control, it seems clear that a similar dis- 
tinction to our unilateral-interdependent training is implied (cf. also 
Baldwin, 1955). Scales describing parental behavior related to unilateral 
training are: restrictiveness of regulations, quantity of suggestion, and 
coerciveness of suggestion (Baldwin et al., 1949). 

In attitude-change studies, the presentation of only one side of an 
issue, either in an irrational fashion or with an absence of participation 
or mutuality, would exemplify this form of training. Attitude change 
reiving on direct external suggestion, power, and control ( Kelman, 1958 ) 
or using an absolute rather than a gradual approach (Harvey and 
Rutherford, 1958) would also be relevant. 

ACCELERATED AUTONOMY TRAINING 

Operations for accelerated autonomy or permissive training. The 
middle point on this generic training dimension (see Table 4) repre- 
sents training in which the directionality of control is least apparent. 
Accelerated autonomy training does not mean an absence of all control 
because, as we note later, extreme permissiveness or indifference have 
controlling effects on behavior. 

Operations for accelerated autonomy training are: (1) a lack of 
source determination of criterion or standards, (2) a lack of environ- 
mental manipulation aimed at presenting progressive barriers to in- 
strumental behavior, and (3) an absence of a specific referent for de- 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 123 

fining rewards or punishments. In clarifying this third operation, we 
may note that the source's evaluation of the subject is non-specific and 
undifferentiated rather than being based on particular achievements or 
instrumental effort, and the role of the source is permissively accepting, 
to a point, in extreme cases, often termed "indulgent." 

Examples of accelerated autonomy training. Such training is rarely 
used to produce specific effects, for example, in attitude-change studies 
or in learning studies, but it has been investigated in various group 
situations. The laissez faire atmosphere used by Lewin and others 
( 1939 ) is relevant. The atmosphere is described in terms of "no con- 
trol," "complete freedom for the group and the individual in decision 
making," and a "lack of participation by the leader." Such training 
represents a lack of direction of control by an indifferent source. Certain 
education practices described as extremely permissive and child-train- 
ing practices described as underdominating and indulgent also exem- 
plify this form of training. Since these training characteristics are 
relevant to the way in which control is imposed, they are discussed 
more fully in the next section of this chapter. 

INTERDEPENDENT TRAINING 

Operations for interdependent training. Three major operations for 
interdependent training are: (1) reality or relative determination of 
criterion, ( 2 ) rewards directed primarily toward means and exploratory 
acts, and (3) intrinsic evaluation, that is, the source places a value on 
the subject "intrinsically," as a person, somewhat apart from the eval- 
uation of his achievement measured against the source's criterion. 

The nature of interdependent training may be conveyed by describ- 
ing briefly a few techniques that have the effect of inducing interdepend- 
ence between the source and the subject or of differentiating the role 
of the source from the criterion or from authoritative control. 

( 1 ) The extent to which the environment is controlled prior to train- 
ing. Environmental control may be achieved by devising a graded series 
of experiences that the subject will almost certainly follow because of 
the way the environment is programmed. A simple example in child 
training is the extent to which a parent removes valuable, breakable, 
or dangerous objects before allowing the child to explore a situation. 
The unilateral alternative is to control or direct the child's behavior 
away from such objects during exploration. ("No, no. Don't touch.") 
The use of environmental programming is becoming increasingly im- 
portant as a major psychological tool for gaining control of behavior, 
for example, in group functioning (Kennedy, 1960), therapy (Jones, 
1953), teaching (Skinner, 1953; Anderson and Moore, 1959). 



124 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

(2) The extent to which rules are imposed in an impersonal way. 
For example, parents can induce children to go to bed by saying, "When 
the bell rings (which is, of course, under the control of the parent), it 
is bedtime" (impersonal). Or by saying, "Go to bed now" (authori- 
tative). Baldwin (1955) used an example of the way some nursery 
school teachers convey rules in an impersonal way. Instead of saying, 
"Don't throw the sand," the teacher may say, "The sand stays down." 
Although subtle, such differences in training have important implica- 
tions for the developing conceptual framework of the person being 
trained. Under conditions of impersonal imposition, the source acts as 
an interpreter of reality rather than as the source of an order. Therefore, 
the subject learns to look to the consequences of his own behavior as 
a basis for the evolvement of concepts. 

(3) The extent to which the source explains reality to the subject: a 
symbolic means of manipulating the environment. Obviously, this 
technique cannot be used unless the subject can understand the "ex- 
planation" given by the source. Partly because of this fact the advent 
of language has important general implications for the distinction 
between unilateral and interdependent training. The availability of 
language permits the source utilizing unilateral training to make the 
rules more explicit and permits the source utilizing interdependent 
training to provide informational explanations about the nature of 
reality. 

Interdependent training is characterized by rewards directed toward 
autonomous instrumental activity rather than toward the achievement 
of external criteria. Exploratory behavior, effort, the discovery of alter- 
nate solutions become the focus of unilateral training and are encour- 
aged and rewarded. 

Such rewarding of exploratory behavior is related to the third oper- 
ation, the intrinsic evaluation of the subject (Ausubel, 1958). By 
intrinsic evaluation, we mean that the subject is valued for himself, for 
what he is, rather than for what he can accomplish in relation to some 
external criterion. Evaluation is divorced from achievement. In gen- 
eral, the absence of externally administered punishment represents an 
overall operation for interdependent training. The basis for using such 
a referent lies in the fact that in interdependent training the discrepan- 
cies between the source's standards and the subject's behavior are 
handled by further environmental control in order to achieve eventual 
behavioral modification rather than through more direct forms of be- 
havioral control such as punishment. 

Examples of interdependent training. Interdependent training is 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 125 

generally similar to what Lewin et al. (1939), Baldwin, Kalhorn, and 
Breese (1945), and Baldwin (1955) have referred to as democratic 
training and to what has been referred to earlier as environmental 
control training (Schroder and Hunt, 1959). Lewin et al. have de- 
scribed democratic atmosphere as involving the leader's acting as an 
interpreter of reality for the group and exerting a moderate amount of 
control. Although these authors did not distinguish between interde- 
pendent and unilateral control, it would appear that the democratic 
situation involved less unilateral control. Baldwin et al. (1949) de- 
scribed democratic training in such terms as justification of policy, 
democracy of policy, non-coerciveness of suggestion, readiness of ex- 
planation, direction of criticism toward approval, clarity of policy, 
and understanding and non-restrictiveness of regulations. 

In contrast with permissiveness, interdependent training involves the 
following: (1) rational and mutual determination of relativistic cri- 
teria, ( 2 ) selective rewards for instrumental behavior, and ( 3 ) environ- 
mental manipulation. Examples of interdependent training in attitude- 
change procedures are the utilization of two-sided presentations 
(Hovland, 1957), of mutual discussion and participation (Hovland, 
Janis, and Kelly, 1953), and of a gradual procedure utilizing a graded 
series of steps leading to the desired end (Harvey and Rutherford, 
1958). 

GENERIC CONSEQUENCES OF UNILATERAL AND 
INTERDEPENDENT TRAINING 

Before proceeding to the more specific forms of training we may note 
the very general effects of training variations on the unilateral-inter- 
dependent dimension. Unilateral training results in the subject's devel- 
oping a conceptual orientation based on external causation. In unilateral 
training, the subject experiences the criteria of his behavior as absolute 
and fixed and the source of rewards as external. Rewards are transformed 
as absolute events over which he has no control. Means are inevitable 
consequences of the ends. 

The results of interdependent training are that the subject develops 
an orientation by which ends or the criteria of behavior are not experi- 
enced as fixed or absolute. Since the end product of a response sequence 
is not specifically tied to or rewarded by an external source under inter- 
dependent training, the criterion of behavior develops over time as 
being differentiated from external control. The "end response" has 
functional significance largely as information for structuring further 
exploratory behavior by the subject. The criterion for behavior is more 



126 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

relative in the sense that it is experienced as being functionally related 
to the exploratory manipulation of reality factors, over which manipu- 
lation the organism has some control. The more specific behavioral im- 
plications of these antecedents are discussed under the imposition 
dimension below. 

One major implication that follows from the distinction which we 
have drawn between fixed and relative criteria is that fixed criteria 
imply less differentiation between the subject and the source; that is, 
under unilateral training, there is less differentiation between the in- 
ternal and the external. The criteria for thoughts, wishes, and actions of 
the subject are defined by the source and are in this sense largely 
synonomous. Being frustrated by reality is experienced as being frus- 
trated by the source. Under unilateral training, therefore, environmental 
frustration is more likely to lead to resentment of the source. The subject 
experiencing such resentment is more likely to become sensitive toward 
the source's evaluations and feelings and to view the source as a power 
or as an external force. In a similar way, the experience of positive en- 
vironmental events is also attributed to the source (Baldwin, 1955). 

We assume that it is the training method rather than the content of 
the responses being trained that determines the nature of conceptual 
development. Therefore, we expect that the same type of conceptual 
consequences will occur following the teaching of any cultural content 
providing the methods of training were similar. 

Dimensions of Imposition 

The unilateral-interdependent dimension provides an ordering of 
training methods that generally determine the development of forms of 
relatedness varying on the concrete-abstract dimension. The more 
specific problem is to specify the precise form of unilateral or inter- 
dependent training that leads to the progression or to the arrestation of 
development at a given stage. In this section we propose a more specific 
training dimension: the manner in which both unilateral and interde- 
pendent training are imposed. We view unilateral training as varying 
from reliable to unreliable imposition of control, whereas interdepend- 
ent training is viewed as varying from a protective to an informational 
form of source imposition (see Table 5). As Table 5 illustrates, we 
are assuming that as the training methods become more interdepend- 
ent, the nature of the relevant dimension of imposition also changes. 
Although necessarily similar in some respects to the training operations 
described earlier for unilateral and interdependent training, these 
four forms of training are more specific descriptions of training con- 
ditions, specifically with regard to imposition, 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 



127 



TABLE 5 

Variations in Imposition on the Unilateral-Interdependent Dimension 



Unilateral 
Training 



Interdependent 
Training 



Reliable 
Imposition 



Maximizes 
potential for 
arrestation 
at stage I 



Unreliable 
Imposition 



Maximizes 
potential for 
arrestation 
at stage II 



Protective 
Imposition 



Maximizes 
potential for 
arrestation 
at stage III 



Informational 
Imposition 



Maximizes 
potential for 
progression 
to stage IV 



RELIABLE UNILATERAL TRAINING 

This training consists of the imposition of reliable and consistent 
criteria so that the subject can learn to behave in accordance with 
these external standards. Rewards and punishment are administered 
in a reliable manner. Classes of behavior that are outside the range of 
acceptance of the source are consistently punished, and behavior in- 
side the range of acceptance is consistently rewarded. Alternative inter- 
pretations or evaluations of the external criteria are masked out ( Lidz, 
Cornelison, Terry, and Fleck, 1958), ignored, or punished. Reliable 
unilateral training is here described as being within the ability' limits 
of the subject so that he can learn to interiorize the external absolute 
criteria and behave according to these standards. x 

Reliable unilateral training may be regarded as "protective" in a 
particular sense, which may be illustrated by a study by Levy ( 1943 ) . In 
studying the effects of maternal overprotection, he found that such 
training could be dimensionalized along a dominance-indulgence di- 
mension. On the dominant side, which corresponds fairly closely to 
the present reliable unilateral training, the mother's controlling and 

1 Unilateral training that is not within the subject's ability limits is described later 
in this chapter under unreliability and acceleration. 



128 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

highly directing behavior led to more docility and submissiveness in 
the children. Although such training is extremely controlling, it is also 
consistent. The training has also been described as overdomination 
( Ausubel, 1952). Autocratic training, certain types of formal education, 
and attitude-change techniques using irrational, absolute, and power- 
oriented suggestion would also be relevant to reliable unilateral train- 
ing conditions. 

UNRELIABLE UNILATERAL TRAINING 

The unreliability referred to in this condition is defined from the view- 
point of the subject rather than the source. On the assumption that the 
subject would experience them as unreliable, the following conditions 
illustrate this training: (1) inconsistency of control, (2) absolute 
source expectations that are beyond the limits of the subject, and (3) 
a lack of affectionate, benevolent, or rewarding components in the 
training. 

By inconsistent imposition we refer to erratic or shifting source 
expectations of the subject, which lead to inconsistent patterns of 
rewards or punishments. Training that is beyond the subject's ability 
level bears a generic similarity to inconsistency since both create an 
unreliable training environment from the subject's viewpoint (Coffin, 
1941). In the extreme cases, the environment is too complex for the 
subject to learn to make meaningful discriminations on the basis of 
the external consequences. From a conceptual point of view, the sub- 
ject is in a consistent situation of failure, but, as we indicate below, fail- 
ure comes to be experienced differently under these conditions. The 
ability of the subject must be considered because the lower the ability 
level, the greater the likelihood that unilateral training will be ex- 
perienced as unreliable. Research (Schroder and Hunt, 1959) has 
consistently shown that the consequences that we expect to follow 
unreliable unilateral training occur more frequently in the lower ability 
groups. 

In the first two conditions (inconsistency and excessively high ex- 
pectations ) the subject does not experience reliable patterns of reward. 
Similar generic consequences are expected from the third condition — 
lack of approval — since the source's failure to provide approval, even 
when the subject's behavior conformed to the external criteria, would 
be experienced as unreliability by the subject. Such conditions are 
generally associated with rejecting or neglectful parental attitudes, 
for example. Although we assume that indifference and neglect on 
the part of the training agent produce effects similar to inconsistency 
and excessively high expectation, these conditions ( that is, indifference 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 129 

and neglect) may be conceived as being more closely related to the 
center of our major dimension ( Table 3 ) than to the unilateral training 
pole. 

Many examples of such training have been reported in studies of 
child development and are referred to in later chapters. Although such 
training would not likely be used to produce attitude change, it is 
frequently used to counteract propaganda by inducing the notion in 
the subject that the behavior of the opposing source is characterized 
by the operations outlined. One of the most common forms of unreliable 
unilateral training is illustrated by the driving parent who aims to 
obtain the subject's dependency by arbitrary and irregular control, re- 
sulting in a distrustful relationship. Under these conditions the environ- 
ment is indirectly hostile, whereas indifference and particularly neglect 
reflect a more directly hostile environment. 

PROTECTIVE INTERDEPENDENT TRAINING 

Under protective interdependent training the subject is rewarded for 
instrumental behavior. The ends are no longer the central feature of 
the training method. Variation on the protective-informational dimen- 
sion is related to the way in which the source enters into the subject's 
autonomous instrumental behavior. Protective imposition utilizes sup- 
port both as a reward and as a means of guiding instrumental behavior 
along certain channels. The source helps the subject and provides an 
example or a model for his behavior in new situations. The most signif- 
icant aspect of protective interdependent training, however, is that 
the source is likely to anticipate the subject's potential failure and then 
enter into his instrumental activity as a helpful, supporting figure before 
the occurrence of failure. 

In a very general sense both reliable unilateral and protective inter- 
dependent training could be described as "protective" (Levy, 1943). 
However, in reliable unilateral training, which involves the source's 
establishing absolute criteria for behavior, protection takes the form of 
control in the service of these external ends. In reliable unilateral 
training it is the ends, or the source-determined criteria, that are cen- 
tral; failure is equivalent to transgression. In protective interdependent 
training, on the other hand, the source anticipates failure relative to 
the subject's instrumental behavior, rather than defining it in terms of 
an absolute criterion. In protective interdependent training, protection 
is a form of intrinsic evaluation embedded in the relationship between 
source and subject; therefore, failure is equivalent to rejection or a 
lack of support. In protective interdependent training the subject is 
induced to take a more active, mutual, give-and-take role (Heathers, 



130 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

1955), and there is less "masking out" (Lidz et al., 1958) of subject- 
defined criterion, that is, of internal control. The degree to which pro- 
tective interdependent training is overdominant, inhibitive, or over- 
controlling is separate from the unilateral-interdependent distinction 
and is taken up as a third more specific dimension of training in Chap- 
ter 6. 

INFORMATIONAL INTERDEPENDENT TRAINING 

When control is achieved through informational imposition, the 
source controls the subject's environment so that exploratory activity 
leads to meaningful progression of skills within the subject's ability 
limits. One of the major characteristics of this method is that learning 
occurs through the subject's independent exploration of progressive 
barriers. Because this condition does not involve evaluating behavior 
on the basis of a particular solution or external criterion, informational 
interdependent training maximizes the subject's discovery of alternate 
solutions. The source in this form of training is not, however, non-direc- 
tional or neutral; rather he explicitly directs his approval toward in- 
strumental accomplishments. Approval in this condition is neither 
personal nor extrinsic but refers to what may be called informational 
participation. If the control of the environment is coordinated with 
the ability of the subject, protection is unnecessary. Therefore, failure 
as well as success can be treated in an informational context with a 
minimum of evaluation or absolutistic control. 

Through instrumental activity, the subject learns from experiencing 
the consequences of his own actions. In informational interdependent 
training he is not only unprotected (free to experience the consequences, 
including failure) but also the consequences have meaning to him in 
terms of reality based on his own past experience. When behavioral 
consequences are evaluated against an externally given criterion (re- 
liable unilateral training ) , reality testing necessarily involves the manip- 
ulation of behavior in reference to a fixed criterion. In informational 
interdependent training, the source enters as a reflecting agent clari- 
fying the information consequences of the subject's behavior in terms 
of the subject's reality world ( Cantril, 1950 ) . 

In discussing a method of child training similar to informational im- 
position, Benedict (1938) states: 

The essential point of such child training is that the child is from infancy 
continuously conditioned to responsible social participation while at the 
same time the tasks that are expected of it are adapted to its capacity. The 
contrast with our society is very great. A child does not make any labor 
contribution to our industrial society except as it competes with an adult; its 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 131 

work is not measured against its own strength and skill but against high- 
geared industrial requirements. Even when we praise a child's achievement 
in the home we are outraged if such praise is interpreted as being of the 
same order as praise of adults. The child is praised because the parent feels 
well disposed, regardless of whether the task is well done by adult stand- 
ards, and the child acquires no sensible standard by which to measure its 
achievement. The gravity of a Cheyenne Indian family ceremoniously mak- 
ing a feast out of the little boy's first snowbird is at the furthest remove from 
our behavior (Benedict, 1938, p. 163). 

In a complex society such as our present one, it is not surprising that 
frequently the training takes the form of being unilateral, permissive, 
or protective simply because of the sheer amount of content that must 
be taught. In such circumstances the use of informational imposition or 
more direct reality experience is difficult. 1 However, effective environ- 
mental control utilizing simulated situations might be introduced that 
would partially overcome this problem in education, training, and devel- 
opment in general. 

One of the best illustrations of informational interdependent train- 
ing is described in the interesting framework being developed bv 
Anderson and Moore (1959) as an "autotelic" situation. In order for 
teaching to produce autotelic activities three conditions are necessarv: 

(1) [The teaching devices] must be "cut off," in some suitable sense, 
from the more serious aspects of the society's activity — those aspects con- 
nected with immediate problems of survival and well-being. If a child is 
learning the intricacies of interaction by experience, the activitv in which 
he is experiencing or practicing interaction must allow him to make manv 
mistakes without endangering the lives or futures of those around him. 
Similarly, such rewards as he receives from the activity must not be too 
expensive to those around him — or again the activity may have just those 
serious consequences which the teaching devices must avoid. 

(2) But in spite of the fact that the teaching device must avoid these 
serious consequences, some motivation must be built into the activity, else 
the learner may lose interest. If we rely on the distinction between 
activities that are intrinsically rewarding, and those that are rewarding onlv 
as a means, or extrinsicalhj rewarding, we mav say that the rewards in the 
learner's activities must be intrinsic, or inherent in the activitv" itself. Such 
activities we call autotelic: they contain their own goals, and sources of 
motivation. 

(3) And finally, they must help a child to learn the relevant techniques 
(Anderson and Moore, 1959, p. 5). 

By utilizing such a method of training, Moore (1960) has demon- 
strated most of the consequences we would expect from such informa- 
tional interdependent training, particularlv in regard to the rate at 

1 Mothers in child guidance clinics often admit to dressing and feeding young 
children though feeling that the child is ready to begin learning these tasks himself. 



132 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

which the child's conceptual schema develop. In Anderson and Moore's 
words (1959): 

If we are correct in supposing that autotelic cultural products help us 
learn about our environment, then it would seem reasonable to try to 
fabricate autotelic teaching devices. If, for example, one should wish to 
teach a child some complicated cultural product such as English orthog- 
raphy, the following procedure would be suggested. After making a detailed 
analysis of the task to be learned, one should put the child in an environ- 
ment which is thoroughly autotelic, and in which the task is presented. Our 
heuristic considerations would lead us to expect order of magnitude differ- 
ences in rate of learning. And experimental studies have fulfilled this 
expectation. Using autotelic contexts suggested by these heuristic considera- 
tions, Moore brought some pre-school children to the point where they were 
reading and writing first grade stories, and typing on an electric typewriter 
with correct fingering — and all in a matter of weeks (Anderson and Moore, 
1959, p. 12). 

Before proceeding to a consideration of the interactive effects of 
these training conditions with stages of development it may be helpful 
to recapitulate the four generic forms of training as they are summarized 
in Table 6. 

Interactive Effects of Training Conditions 
upon Stages of Development 

We assume that the nature of the training condition not only deter- 
mines whether progression or arrestation occurs but, in addition, that 
functioning at a particular stage of development differs according to 
the training conditions that are being experienced. This variation is 
summarized in Table 7. 

Interaction between Reliable Unilateral 
Training and Stages of Development 

Reliable unilateral training would be expected to maximize openness 
to differentiations based on external control and to maximize closedness 
to differentiations based on pole B of first stage concepts, namely op- 
position to external control. Therefore, we propose that such training 
is antecedent to the eventual arrestation of development at the first 
stage ( cf . left-hand column in Table 7 ) . 

In order for progression from the first to the second stage to occur, the 
person must be open to both pole A and B in the first stage. Such open- 
ness requires training methods that include at least one of the following 
characteristics: (1) permission of more subject autonomy, (2) induce- 
ment of an internal conception of causality, (3) encouragement of 



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TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 135 

alternative solutions to problems, (4) involvement of an interdependent 
relationship between the subject and the source, and (5) involvement 
of intrinsic evaluation or reward for instrumental behavior, leading 
to feelings of self-worth and confidence in independently coping with 
the environment. Reliable unilateral training satisfies none of the above 
requirements. In addition, the fact that it maximally favors the adoption 
of pole A, stage I, differentiations (see Table 3 on pp. 116-117), favors 
arrestation of progressive development at stage I (see Table 7). 

Under this training the utilization of differentiations based on abso- 
lutistic control and unilateral or symbiotic dependence (Fromm, 1941) 
become ends in themselves, rather than the means or a step in the 
progression to more abstract levels. First stage functioning under 
completely reliable unilateral training is expected to be maximally 
closed to overt oppositional tendencies; therefore, further integration 
is impossible and progressive development is arrested. Further devel- 
opment proceeds within the conceptual limits of the arrested form of 
a stage I system of relatedness. Development within relatively closed 
systems at various levels of abstractness are discussed in Chapter 6. 

Interaction between Unreliable Unilateral 
Training and Stages of Development 

Unreliable unilateral training would be expected to maximize open- 
ness to differentiations based upon opposition to external control and 
to maximize closedness to differentiations based on any form of depend- 
ency upon others for support or help. Therefore, we assume that such 
training will lead to arrestation of development at the second stage 
( see Table 7 ) . 

In order for progression from the second to the third stage to occur, 
the person must be open to both poles C and D in the second stage. 
Such openness requires training methods that include at least one of 
the following characteristics: (1) maintenance of positive relation- 
ships between the subject and source in order that opposition on the 
part of the subject represents budding internal control rather than 
hostility; (2) fostering of the subject's viewing his own behavior as 
affecting the criterion by which it is evaluated, and (3) involvement 
of intrinsic evaluation. None of these requirements is met by unreliable 
unilateral training so that arrestation at the second stage occurs. 

Unreliable unilateral training results in tenuous, distrustful subject- 
source relationships that produce closedness to pole D. In second stage 
functioning, oppositional tendencies originate initially as means or 
early tendencies toward internal control. However, under unreliable 
unilateral training, these oppositional tendencies become ends in 



136 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

themselves. Such transformation of opposition into hostility and ag- 
gression is accompanied by a transformation of dependency (pole D) 
as dangerous and threatening, since it is perceived as a form of control. 

In order to understand the interaction of this training condition 
with stages, we need to consider the effect of unreliable unilateral 
training at every stage. As indicated in Table 7, the effect of this train- 
ing upon first stage functioning is to produce exaggerated pole B dif- 
ferentiations. A major effect of this training upon functioning at the 
first stage is to produce closedness and avoidance toward pole A dif- 
ferentiations involving external control. Therefore, the net effect would 
be toward an increasing positiveness of pole B: opposition to external 
control and the avoidance of compliance and control. Under these 
conditions transition does not represent an integration of external sup- 
port or control with oppositional interpretations. The emerging con- 
ceptual system, therefore, does not permit generating new differentia- 
tions required for progression beyond stage II. 

Unreliable unilateral training retards or restricts the emergence of 
third stage concepts that are open to pole D interpretations (viewing 
others as models, or as being supportive ) . When oppositional tendencies 
become ends in themselves, involving closedness to pole A and open- 
ness to pole B during the first stage, we speak of the outcome as 
arrestation at the second stage of functioning. In this sense, such arres- 
tation at the second stage involves the arrestation of development at 
the very outset of the second stage. 

It will be recalled that we are assuming that an individual has pro- 
gressed beyond an omnipotent stage before reaching what we describe 
as the first stage. The child must experience some concretistic depend- 
ence on the parent, even though short-lived, in order to reach the 
second stage. Impersonal, neglectful training which prohibits entirely 
the emergence of first stage orientations will not therefore lead to 
second stage functioning, but rather to some form of autistic function- 
ing, more concrete than the level at which we enter the developmental 
ladder. Unreliable unilateral training, as used here, necessarily permits 
the development of first stage orientations to a sufficient degree that 
oppositional tendencies (to external control of the first stage) may 
develop. 

The introduction of unreliable unilateral training very early in the 
course of the developmental sequence produces both a strong negative 
"weighting" of the source and a decreased tendency toward what 
Ausubel has referred to as ego-devaluation and subsequent satelliza- 
tion (Ausubel, 1952). Therefore, the foundation for progression to the 
third stage, namely mutuality and cooperative behavior, is almost en- 
tirely absent. 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 137 

If unreliable unilateral training is imposed somewhat later (when 
the subject begins to function at the second stage ) , then such constric- 
tion is likely to be perceived as frustrating and unreliable by the subject 
since oppositional behavior in the framework of progression is not 
directed against the source. However, such restriction results in greater 
closedness both to pole A and to pole D differentiations. Punishment 
for aggression as well as oppositional tendencies does not decrease the 
aggressive tendencies but merely changes the form of their expression 
(Sears, Maccoby, and Levin, 1957). 

Interaction between Protective Interdependent 
Training and Stages of Development 

Protective interdependent training is expected to maximize openness 
to differentiations based upon support, dependency, and imitation while 
maximizing closedness to differentiations based upon autonomy. The 
effect of this training condition, therefore, is to produce a particular 
form of progression through the first two stages and to the eventual 
arrestation of development at the third stage of functioning. 

In order for progression from the third to the fourth stage to occur, 
the person must be open to both poles E and F at the third stage. Such 
openness requires training conditions that facilitate both mutuality 
and autonomy. Since this requirement is not met by protective inter- 
dependent training, arrestation at the third stage is expected. 

Protective training induces a sensitization to other people's reactions 
to one's own behavior and thereby increases the tendency to rely on the 
support of others in unstructured situations. As a result of such training, 
the subject adopts alternate attitudes or solutions that will insure con- 
tinuing support other than for informational purposes. The aim, there- 
fore, is not only to avoid the withdrawal of support but also to avoid 
autonomy and to maintain positive relationships by pleasing others. 
Training that sensitizes the subject to viewing others as the anticipators 
of success and failure increases the closedness of third stage concepts 
to differentiations based on autonomous informational standards. 

Table 7 illustrates a point touched on earlier: that protective inter- 
dependent training interacts with functioning at the first stage to lead 
to functioning modified by the intrusion of third stage tendencies such 
as greater sensitization to rejection, approval, separation, and mutuality. 
When protective interdependent training occurs in relation to first 
stage functioning we would also expect that the differentiations based on 
pole B would involve more "attention getting" characteristics when the 
subject was frustrated or confronted by an ambiguous situation. Under 
this training condition, oppositional tendencies would likely enlist the 
support, attention, and interest of others. Protective interdependent 



138 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

training therefore provides partial openness to pole C at the second 
stage and the accompanying differentiation between subject and source 
requisite for one type of progression to the third stage. However, the 
fact that second stage functioning under this training is not character- 
ized by sufficiently complete openness to pole C is a primary determi- 
nant of the later arrestation at the third stage; the "independent" ac- 
tivities are in the service of dependency goals. 

The initiation of internal control or oppositional tendencies is in con- 
flict with the learned tendencies to look to others as supporters and as 
anticipators of potential dangers. The venture into negative independ- 
ence is too closely tied to attention-gaining devices (for example, tan- 
trums) and is accompanied by increasing and excessive openness to 
pole D differentiations ( that is, dependency interpretations ) . The pos- 
sibility of the emergence of a conceptual system capable of generating 
differentiations based on mutuality and autonomy, which are both re- 
quired for progression beyond the third stage, is reduced, leading to 
the arrestation of progressive development at the third stage. 

Interaction between Informational Interdependent 
Training and Stages of Development 

Informational interdependent training is assumed to maximize open- 
ness to differentiations at every stage based on both conceptual poles, 
including both mutuality and autonomy in the third stage functioning. 
Such training permits the most rapid and the most successful integration 
of each of these opposing differentiations, leading to the eventual emer- 
gence of fourth stage conceptual functioning. 

This training condition is optimal for producing the most abstract 
form of functioning. In this connection we may note that when we as- 
sumed in Chapter 4 that the training conditions were optimal, we were 
simply assuming that informational interdependent training was pres- 
ent. Given this circumstance, development proceeds through the three 
stages described in the last chapter to the fourth stage of functioning. 

This training does not consist of a constant set of conditional pro- 
cedures applied by the source throughout the training sequence. In 
this sense, we would agree with Ausubel's (1952) notion of intrinsic 
evaluation that changes in relation to the developing child. However, 
the principles underlying informational interdependent training remain 
constant, whether the subject is functioning at the first, second, or third 
stage. In this training the behavior of the source is highly interdependent 
in regard to the subject's behavior. In other forms of training described, 
either the source dominates the subject or the subject dominates the 
source. Neither circumstance provides for a developmental sequence 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 139 

in which the critical integrations required for abstract forms of related- 
ness may occur (see unilateral training above and permissive training 
below ) . It is this interdependent flow of information between the sub- 
ject and the training situation that provides both a truly open-loop feed- 
back situation between the subject and the source and the maximum 
openness of the conceptual system to more abstract differentiations at 
each stage. These two characteristic effects of informational interdepen- 
dent training are basic to the resulting progression to more abstract 
levels of functioning. 

When it occurs in relation to first stage functioning (see Table 7), 
informational interdependent training involves controlling the environ- 
ment in order to provide structure and external supports (pole A). This 
training reinforces attempts at internal control regardless of the ex- 
cellence of the outcome judged against an external criterion. The re- 
ward pattern is ipsative and hence favors openness to pole B. Since the 
source and subject are in an interdependent open-loop situation, en- 
vironmental pressures and stages of development remain in maximum 
synchrony. The developing approach tendencies to pole A and pole B 
facilitate integration and the emergence of second stage concepts open 
to both pole C (internal control, negative independence) and pole D 
(dependency on informational supports). Later, since the conceptual 
system is equally open to both interpretations, further development 
involves the emergence of a new conceptual system open to poles E 
and F (mutuality and autonomy), and informational interdependent 
training provides an environment in which these differentiations be- 
come integrated so that neither interferes with the other. 

A study by Baldwin (1946) is particularly relevant to the change in 
training condition relative to the developing organism. He demonstrated 
that the correlation between children's adjustment and parental warmth 
was .64 for three-year-olds and .16 for nine-year-olds, and between 
adjustment and parental interference it was — .09 for three-year-olds and 
— .50 for nine-year-olds. These results suggest that different components 
of training have different effects at different stages of development. We 
assume that informational interdependent training maintains maximum 
synchrony between the developmental stage and the environmental 
pressures and, therefore, maximally facilitates progression. 

Short-Term Effects of Training Conditions 

In this section we consider the short-term effects of the four "pure" 
training conditions on conceptual functioning. Training conditions 
interact with stages of development in the complex way that we have 



140 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

attempted to portray in Table 7. The nature of functioning at any stage 
is influenced both by ( 1 ) training conditions through the early stages 
of development and (2) by the training condition at a particular later 
stage of development. For example, protective-interdependent training 
presumably exercises its optimal effect on functioning after the emer- 
gence of oppositional tendencies at the beginning of the third stage. 
However, as Table 7 indicates, different training conditions would be 
expected to produce specific differences in functioning in the early 
stages of learning, for example, in the first stage. 

In this section we consider evidence bearing on the short-term effects 
of the four polar training conditions as it may support the expected 
effects. These expectations are presented at the generic level along the 
top row of Table 7. The studies we describe are somewhat limited in 
that they do not take account of dispositional characteristics of the sub- 
ject. That is, a particular subject may be so highly predisposed to 
activate third stage functioning that the short-term effects of a training 
condition may have little effect on him. In Chapter 8 we discuss the 
interdependent effects of situational and dispositional factors. For 
present purposes, however, let us assume that studies utilizing different 
training methods would be expected to show immediate gross differ- 
ences in functioning in the direction specified. Many different forms of 
evidence are presented in the chapters to follow, particularly in Chapter 
8 where the discussion of the contemporaneous effects of situational 
variables represents a more thorough treatment of this problem. 

Short-Term Effects of Reliable 
Unilateral Training 

Coping with reliable unilateral training leads to the development of 
a conceptual system characterized by poor discrimination (by the sub- 
ject) between self and source. Concepts are more absolute and more 
compartmentalized. In this training, the source determines directly the 
associations that the subject adopts toward events. Accordingly, the 
source is perceived as omniscient and powerful. Once such undifferenti- 
ated subject-object relationships are formed, the associations are like 
absolute rules that permit no alternatives. In addition, such associations 
are rigid, externally anchored, and experienced as outside the range of 
the subject's influence. The effect of such training induces maximal 
openness to change induced by an external source, but the change in 
behavior or solution that occurs is categorical, all or none, or black- 
white. This black-whiteness is a product of the external determination 
of ready-made concepts described in Chapter 2. 

Merton's (1940) account of the effect of standardized bureaucratic 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 141 

role experiences (bureaucratic training) on personality is relevant. In 
his words: 

( 1 ) An effective bureaucracy demands reliability of response and strict 
devotion to regulations. (2) Such devotion to the rules leads to their 
transformation into absolutes; they are no longer conceived as relative to a 
given set of purposes. (3) This interferes with ready adaptation under 
special conditions not clearly envisaged by those who drew up the general 
rules. (4) Thus, the very elements which conduce toward efficiency in gen- 
eral produce inefficiency in specific instances. Full realization of the in- 
adequacy is seldom attained by members of the group who have not divorced 
themselves from the "meanings" which the rules have for them. These rules 
in time become symbolic in cast, rather than strictly utilitarian (Merton, 
1940, p. 564). 

If the subjects are pretrained to use a particular solution by reliable 
unilateral type training, then progressive changes in the problem to be 
solved, which would generally produce an alternate solution, have less 
effect on the nature of the solution than the same task changes have for 
subjects trained by other methods (Schroder and Rotter, 1952). Fur- 
thermore, when the task was changed sufficiently to produce a change 
in the solution for persons trained under reliable unilateral conditions, 
the solution change was more categorical. In this experiment the cat- 
egorical nature of attempted solutions was indicated by a relative ab- 
sence of "looking for alternative solutions." When adopted, new solutions 
were absolute and persisted more rigidly under conditions that called 
for further modification in solution. 

This study indicates the concreteness of the learned associations 
produced by reliable unilateral training. If rigidity is defined in terms 
of the nature of change ( brittle, or categorical ) , then we expect reliable 
unilateral training to maximize rigidity. However, the relationship be- 
tween rigidity and resistance to change is very complex in that we as- 
sume the interrelationship is determined by both the level of reliable 
unilateral training and the means of attempting to induce change. Let 
us consider two levels of training — short-term and long-term — and two 
means of inducing change — direct external influence by a powerful 
source versus task or environmental change induction ( as in the study 
referred to above). Under short-term conditions we would expect, in 
addition to rigidity, that the subject would be resistant to change in- 
duced by environmental factors but would not resist change induced by 
powerful sources. (It should be noted, however, as we have implied 
earlier that even though resistance to change may be slight, when 
change occurs under these conditions, it is of a categorical nature.) 
However, if the training conditions are long-term, involving child train- 
ing practices over a long period of time, we would expect the subject to 



142 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

be resistant to both forms of change. These latter effects are dealt with 
in greater detail in later chapters. 

Short-Term Effects of Unreliable 
Unilateral Training 

Unreliable imposition of unilateral control produces a conceptual 
system in which subject and source are differentiated, but in a very 
tenuous fashion. The subject attaches a very low "weight" to the source, 
since he distrusts him. This form of training produces subject-source 
relationships that are directionally opposite to those described in the 
first-stage systems. Responses learned under this training are also rel- 
atively resistant to change, but this resistance is not accompanied by 
such rigidity as occurs as a consequence of reliable unilateral training. 
Resistance to change following unreliable unilateral training is due 
to a lack of informational value of feedback, rather than to an excessive 
reliance on an absolute fixed criterion. 

One important characteristic of this training is assumed to be that 
social rewards and punishments are relatively ineffective. The main 
features of this training can be exemplified by the partial reinforcement 
paradigm. When associations are established on the basis of unreliable 
rewards, these associations are more tenuous (less strong) and more 
tenacious (Schroder, 1956). Viewed in terms of experimental studies, 
this particular outcome of training has become almost synonymous 
with resistance to extinction. However, many other related training 
conditions consistent with the operations outlined above would be ex- 
pected to produce the same effects. Phares ( 1957) instructed one group 
that success on a problem was a matter of skill and another group that 
the task was so difficult that success would be largely a matter of chance 
(unreliable). He found that the latter group changed least (change 
measured in terms of level of aspiration ) as a consequence of the occur- 
rence of success or failure. The tenacious maintenance of a high level 
of aspiration in the face of failure by rejected children who perceive 
themselves as extrinsically valued by parents (Ausubel, Balthazar, 
Rosenthal, Blackman, Schpront, and Welkowitz, 1954 ) also exemplifies 
the effects of unreliable unilateral training. 

Short-Term Effects of Protective 
Interdependent Training 

As a result of protective interdependent training, the subject learns 
to view other relevant persons as supportive, and/or as supplying the 
criterion for behavior in the absence of internal informational standards. 
Because the source is associated with the successful solution of problems 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 143 

in this condition, positive and supportive subject-source relations come 
to be the primary concern. Therefore, uncertainty regarding this sub- 
ject-source relation comes to be associated with the expectancy of failure 
and a general decrease in confidence. 

Change in behavior developed under protective interdependent train- 
ing should be maximally effective if through source induction. Since 
source-induced change is also at times effective in first stage svstems, 
it is important to distinguish between the two conditions. Three major 
distinctions mav be noted. First, protective training leads to more ef- 
fective discrimination between subject and source than unilateral train- 
ing, so that concepts are less absolutistic. Second, protective training is 
linked to persons as sources of support ( interpersonal relationships ) 
whereas unilateral training is linked to persons as sources of external 
criteria and rules (power). Third, there is a difference in the nature of 
resistance to change produced by these two conditions. Whereas re- 
liable unilateral training leads to considerable resistance to change, 
protective training occurring in relation to a problem-solving situation 
would not produce fixed, compartmentalized concepts. That is, there 
is no reason to expect resistance to change in an impersonal problem- 
solving situation in which the social relationships are not salient in ref- 
erence to the solutions. 

Subject-object associations in this condition are not experienced in 
the form of absolute rules as being right or wrong in terms of some ex- 
ternal power over which the subject has no control. Rather, the asso- 
ciations produced by protective interdependent training are conditional 
in that they can be changed at any time in the service of their effects on 
relationships. As a result of this training, the self becomes the agent of 
causality much more than in functioning based on conceptual systems 
reflecting less differentiation of the subject from external conditions. 

Many experimental procedures exemplify certain components of 
this training. Training methods that induce normative sets (Deutsch 
and Gerard, 1955) or a group set (Thibaut and Strickland, 1956) pro- 
duce judgments and behavior that are highly dependent upon the judg- 
ments of other people. In these conditions and other learning sequences 
involving verbal approval or agreement by the source as the criterion of 
behavior, such behavior tends to persist despite the changes in the 
situational stimuli so long as verbal approval or relationships remain 
salient (Kelman, 1958). 

A major effect of protective training is to increase the subject's sen- 
sitivity to isolation, which in turn increases approval-seeking and socially 
accommodating responses aimed to avoid rejection. In inducing greater 
relative social deprivation or isolation, protective training would be ex- 



144 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

pected to be associated with the same consequent effects as experi- 
mentally induced deprivation or isolation. Levin and Baldwin ( 1959 ) 
have recently shown that children were more likely to want to exhibit 
their work after a condition in which success followed a previous failure 
( after an increase in sensitivity to failure or rejection ) than after a con- 
dition in which success was not preceded by failure. Of even more direct 
relevance is a study by Gewirtz and Baer ( 1958 ) who have shown that 
20 minutes of social isolation had the effect of increasing the effective- 
ness of verbal rewards. 

Short-Term Effects of Informational 
Interdependent Training 

Under informational interdependent training the subject learns to 
view autonomous exploratory behavior as a means of solving problems. 
He does not learn to rely on the support of others or on ready-made 
concepts as a means of relating to objects. Failure or difficulty in instru- 
mental activity does not become associated with feelings of worthless- 
ness, negativism, or rejection, but, instead, difficulty is transformed into 
informational feedback on which the subject learns to depend. He learns 
to relate to objects in terms of internal standards developed through ex- 
periencing the consequences of his own exploratory action. This training 
maximizes the subject's sensitivity to situational change because subject- 
object associations are anchored in informational standards that are 
maximally under the control of, and relevant to, the subject's exploratory 
behavior. 

Subject-object relations in this system are flexible and open to change 
as required by changes in the situation. In a problem-solving situation, 
such training would be expected to lead to early solution change as the 
nature of the problem progressively changed. Such change in solution 
would be characterized as flexible rather than rigid, so that at all times 
the subject would be open to or sensitized to alternative solutions 
(Schroder and Rotter, 1952). Such functioning is more inefficient in 
situations that demand obedient, fixed, or automatic behavior. The 
effect of such training can be summarized by the description "abstract 
closedness." One of the main characteristics of abstract functioning is 
that the person can take on the "closed" state in order to explore the 
consequences of a given system of ordering, but he can also open his 
conceptual system to discrepant views or systems of ordering. That is, 
although informational training leads to strong standards or attitudes, 
these standards are not absolute. In contrast to the subjective projection 
of first stage functioning, the more abstract concept does not "shut out" 
alternate observations or evaluations. Incoming information is not dis- 
torted by fitting it onto an absolntistic conceptual schema. 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 145 

Up to this point we have described the nature of four generic training 
conditions and the effect of these conditions upon development. These 
four extreme training methods provide what we assume to be the "ideal" 
conditions antecedent to the eventual arrestation of the first, second, and 
third stage and for progression to the fourth stage. Before concluding 
this chapter we shall consider the interaction between training condi- 
tions and stages of development in regard to the transition between 
stages. 

The Effect of Training Conditions upon Transitional Arrestation 

Transitional arrestation is associated with training that induces pre- 
mature or accelerated developmental "leaps." When environmental pres- 
sures are out of synchrony with the stage of development, the result 
is the development of both approach and avoidant tendencies toward 
both poles of a conceptual system. If environmental pressures pull or 
induce conflicting differentiations before the subject reaches sufficient 
clarity of differentiations based on the earlier pole, such pressures 
result in the simultaneous arousal of positive and negative tendencies 
to each pole. Acceleration produces a lack of clarity of one form of 
relatedness before experiencing the next. As a consequence, not only 
does the subject develop partial openness (positive and negative evalu- 
ations ) to each pole of a concept but also he fails to discriminate suf- 
ficiently between the two poles. 

Environmental pressures or training conditions that are in synchrony 
with developmental stages induce new and conflicting differentiations 
sequentially. Before experiencing a new conflicting basis for function- 
ing (that is, a conflicting pole) the subject should gain some facility in 
functioning on the basis of the earlier set of differentiations. The devel- 
opment of some confidence in functioning based on unilateral depend- 
ence (pole A, first stage) is required before the development of op- 
positional tendencies ( pole B ) . In a similar way, conditional dependence 
should follow differentiations based on internal control in order to 
satisfy the requirements of synchrony and to enhance progression. 

We propose that accelerated forms of training at any stage increase 
the simultaneity of development of conflicting differentiations. By ac- 
celeration we mean that the environmental pressures are ahead of the 
developmental rate, that is, premature in relation to level of clarity of 
earlier differentiations. As a result of such premature conflict each set 
of differentiations develops positive and negative attitudes, which re- 
tard or restrict the possibility of integration and progression. 

That is, by accelerated training we mean training that is imposed 
before the subject is ready. Such premature training constitutes pres- 



146 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

sures that demand the emergence of differentiations based on a given 
pole, for example, pole B, before the subject has reached sufficient 
articulation of pole A or before he has achieved sufficient structure and 
trust as a background for oppositional tendencies to be integrated. Ac- 
celeration has generally referred to early independence training ( Whit- 
ing and Child, 1953). However, we propose that any training method 
can be accelerated and that the object of the training, whether it be 
toilet training, language, or other forms of achievement, is of less im- 
portance than the training condition through which acceleration is 
mediated. 

In this section three forms of acceleration are described. These meth- 
ods parallel the training dimensions already discussed and are referred 
to as (1) accelerated unilateral training, (2) accelerated autonomous 
training ( in the center of the unilateral-interdependent training dimen- 
sion on Table 4), and (3) accelerated interdependent training. These 
three forms of accelerated training represent the antecedent conditions 
for the arrestation of progressive development at transitional points be- 
tween the four stages: between (1) the first and second stages, (2) the 
second and third stages, and (3) the third and fourth stages. These 
three transitional points will be referred to as levels I, II, and III, re- 
spectively (see Table 8). Between the extremes of progression and 
transitional arrestation (involving, to some degree, conflicting or com- 
partmentalized subject-object linkages) there are many degrees of 
integrative difficulty, which may retard progression at a particular 
transitional level and may result in a potential developmental flaw at 
that point. Such flaws may then recur in future related cycles of devel- 
opment. The relationships between training and arrestation (including 
transitional arrestation) are presented in Tables 8 and 9, which are 
elaborations of Tables 5 and 7. 

In Table 8 the two training dimensions, noted earlier, are collapsed 
into a single dimension, which permits expressing their combined com- 
plex effects on overall development conceived as progressing from con- 
crete to abstract systems of conceptual functioning. When viewed in 
relation to the level of concreteness, this generic training dimension is 
unidimensional though quite complex. When viewed more phenotyp- 
ically or more specifically, this dimension becomes multidimensional. 
Our approach to development permits investigation at either the gen- 
eral or specific level and provides a set of theoretical propositions for 
integrating dimensions, which at one level of analysis are more specific 
and unrelated, into a single dimension at the next most general level. 
The nature of these various dimensions will be fully developed at the 
beginning of Chapter 6. 









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150 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Accelerated Unilateral Training and 
Level I Transitional Arrestation 

Accelerated unilateral training is characterized by imposition that 
is consistent and controlling as well as pushing and demanding. It in- 
volves ( 1 ) training that is not so far beyond the ability of the subject 
that the subject does not achieve an occasional reward, (2) a high 
degree of extrinsic reward for achieving these ends, and punishment, 
including the withdrawal of love, for failure to do so. 

Such accelerated training .differs from unreliable unilateral training 
only in degree. Accelerated unilateral training does not imply such great 
irregularity or arbitrariness; therefore, it produces less distrust and 
more interiorization of absolutistic criteria. In contrast to unreliable uni- 
lateral training, accelerated training involves excessive (as opposed to 
unreliable) achievement demands whereas unreliable unilateral train- 
ing involves inconsistency and changing standards. 

Relevant to these operations are the child training practices under- 
lying what Brown (1953) refers to as the rigid, anxious, authoritarian 
personality. He states: 

Suppose two indulgent, child-centered parents have feelings of social and 
economic marginality. . . . Such parents will encourage behavior that safe- 
guards or enhances their status and will punish and suppress those in- 
clinations in their offspring which threaten that status. ... As a result he 
will have many bitter experiences of failure and will learn to anticipate 
this unpleasant outcome of achievement-related tasks. But because his oc- 
casional successes have been so well rewarded he will want very much to 
succeed and will keep trying (Brown, 1953, pp. 474-475). 

Under these conditions we would expect the development of partial 
openness to both poles ( a double approach-avoidant conflict ) and transi- 
tional arrestation at level I (see Table 9). 

On the one hand, the conceptual orientation is directed toward the 
achievement of rigid, externally-defined goals ( pole A differentiations ) 
and, on the other hand, it is toward the tendency to reject such goals 
and negatively "weight" the source ( pole B differentiations ) . Such sub- 
ject-object relatedness involves a conflict of tendencies to achieve the 
external goals and view the source as omnipotent versus tendencies 
to fear the consequences of failure and to reject external control. We 
would expect such training to induce a maximum of compulsivity and 
concern about achievement. By this we do not necessarily imply a 
higher level of achievement but rather that achievements should be 
more concrete (Lazarus, Baker, Broverman, and Mayer, 1957). Such 
persons should accordingly show greater concern about achievement 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 151 

or sensitivity to it, measured as a threshold, for example, through the 
use of a projective technique (McClelland et al., 1953). 

Accelerated Autonomous Training and 
Level II Transitional Arrestation 

Accelerated autonomous training is characterized by: (1) a lack of 
directionality of control and (2) indiscriminate approval. This training 
is very similar to what Ausubel (1952) describes as underdomination 
or permissiveness. We agree with Ausubel in distinguishing between 
this training and what he describes as overprotection ( or what we refer 
to as protective-interdependent training). Under accelerated autono- 
mous training the role of the source is "submissive," and the subject 
becomes omnipotent. In contrast to protective interdependent train- 
ing, the source in accelerated autonomous training does not enter into 
the subject's instrumental behavior either when the subject begins to 
fail or when the subject is on the threshold of experiencing negative or 
dangerous consequences. This training condition presents a minimum of 
barriers or restraints; the likelihood that the subject will seek barriers 
is made even less by the application of indiscriminate rewards regard- 
less of the quality of the outcome of the subject's behavior. 

Therefore, we would expect such training to induce conflicting sys- 
tems of subject-object relatedness. The resulting conceptual orienta- 
tion toward objects involves a conflict between, on the one hand, the 
tendency to be independent of the source and to maintain a position of 
omnipotence or self-assertion in relation to the source (modified by 
second stage pole C differentiations ) as opposed, on the other hand, to 
the tendency to seek or depend upon the approval and support of the 
source ( second stage pole D differentiations ) . Although such conflict- 
ing subject-object associations may not be so apparent in this training 
situation as in accelerated unilateral training, the conflict becomes very 
apparent when the source is changed. An underdominated child may 
experience little conflict in the home situation interacting with the 
overpermissive parents, but when this child is interacting with more 
demanding persons, for example, peers, the conflict becomes more 
intense. In a peer-group situation, the child's quest for independence 
and omnipotence is more likely to produce ostracism and rejection than 
the indiscriminate approval that he customarily expects. Accelerated 
autonomous training not only fails to develop frustration tolerance but 
also fails to produce the instrumental skills necessary for resolving con- 
flict or becoming independent in a positive or interdependent sense. 

As was true earlier for the four generic training conditions the effect 
of accelerated training differs according to the stage of development in 



152 Conceptual systems and personality organization 

the person experiencing such a condition ( see Table 9 ) . However, the 
critical effects of accelerated autonomous training do not become ap- 
parent until the subject reaches the second stage of development. The 
resulting arrestation at level II is characterized primarily by an inability 
to cope with internal control and negative independence. 

Accelerated Interdependent Training 
and Level III Arrestation 

Accelerated interdependent training is characterized by ( 1 ) non-con- 
trolling source expectation of premature, autonomous (but not extrinsi- 
cally valued) responsibility, (2) an environment that is somewhat be- 
yond the ability level of the subject, and perhaps may be somewhat 
unpredictable, and (3) a relative absence of the highly supportive 
components of training described as operations for protective inter- 
dependent training. The major effect of such training is to arouse 
simultaneously the opposing motivational tendencies of third stage pole 
E and pole F differentiations. Under these conditions the conflict lies 
between tendencies to behave in a way that would be congruent with 
informational standards (or independent exploratory behavior), as 
opposed to tendencies to behave in a way that would be congruent with 
other people's standards and thus avoid the possible negative conse- 
quences experienced earlier in relying on premature informational 
standards. 

General Considerations 

TRAINING CONDITIONS AND POWER RELATIONSHIPS 

In any training situation each member (the source and the subject) 
can effect each other's outcomes to some degree, however slight it 
might be for the subject under some circumstances. In this sense each 
has some power over the other. 1 Thibaut and Kelley ( 1959) define two 
types of power as follows: "If, by varying his behavior, A can effect 
B's outcomes regardless of what B does, A has fate control over B 
(p. 102). ... If, by varying his behavior, A can make it desirable for 
B to vary his behavior too, then A has behavior control over B" (p. 103) . 

1 A current story in psychological circles illustrates this point. A somewhat bored 
psychologist ( Mr. A. ) at a small meeting passed away his time by "shaping up" one 
of his colleague's behavior. Every time his colleague ( Mr. B. ) pounded his fist on the 
table to emphasize a point, Mr. A. would reward him by such social techniques as 
subtly agreeing with him and so on. As expected, Mr. B.'s fist-pounding increased 
considerably. The next day Mr. B. was overheard to say "Mr. A. is a peculiar per- 
son; you can make him agree with your viewpoint by slamming your fist on the 
table." 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 153 

The relationship between power formulations and training conditions 
will concern us more when we deal with attitude change in Chapter 8. 
Here we will merely raise the possibility of what appear to be some 
interesting connections between Thibaut and Kelley's terms and our 
training dimensions. 

Reliable unilateral training maximizes the possibility that in the early 
stages of the training the source has fate control over the subject be- 
cause the source establishes the criterion. As learning proceeds, pro- 
viding S can adjust his behavior to match the source criterion, the situ- 
ation becomes one of behavior control. Under these conditions the 
subject learns to adjust his behavior to absolutistic rules. The less the 
subject can learn to adjust to the source's rules (unreliable unilateral 
training), the more the situation remains one of fate control, and the 
subject minimally learns to adjust his behavior to the source. In the 
initial stages, under protective interdependent training, the situation 
contains many elements of fate control of a distinctive nature. The source 
anticipates and controls the consequence of the subject's behavior (in 
a protective sense) regardless of what the subject does. Under this 
training the subject learns a "behavior control" orientation. He learns 
to anticipate the behavior of others and adjust his own behavior to 
these anticipations so that he can maintain a supportive relationship 
to others. This is similar to Thibaut and Kelley's notion of a conversion 
from fate control to behavior control. Informational interdependent 
training minimally involves fate control and achieves behavior control 
primarily through appropriate environmental manipulations. 

Training Conditions and Maternal Behavior Concepts 

The dimensionalization of training one employs should not and 
perhaps cannot be independent of the more general theoretical orienta- 
tion one utilizes. In this sense the training dimensions currently proposed 
are based upon and represent an interrelated aspect of a general theory 
of development, personality organization, and functioning. 

A recent investigation by Schaefer ( 1959 ) suggests that descriptions 
of maternal behavior, as conceived in a number of studies, may be 
ordered within a two-dimensional space as reproduced in Table 10. 
Although our developmental theory would be likely to produce a some- 
what different dimensional space, the interrelationships between the 
various descriptions of maternal behavior presented by Schaefer in 
Table 10 are in general agreement with our analysis. One set of de- 
scriptions involving primarily authoritarian control is similar to the 
present reliable unilateral training. The opposite cluster, referred to as 



154 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

TABLE 10 
A Hypothetical Circumplex of Maternal Behavior Concepts * 



AUTONOMY 



Detached 
Indifferent 



Neglecting 
Rejecting 



100 

80 

60 
40 

20 



HOSTILITY 



-100 -80 -60 -40 -20 



-20 



Demanding 


-40 


— 


Over Indulgent 


Antagonistic 










-60 




Protective 
Indulgent 


Authoritarian 


-80 


— 




Dictatorial 




Ove 


r Protective 




-100 


Possessive 




CON 


FROL 





Freedom 
Democratic 



Cooperative 



Accepting 



20 40 60 80 100 



LOVE 



* Reproduced from E. S. Schaefer, A circumplex model for maternal be- 
havior, /. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 1959, 59, p. 232. 

democratic and cooperative practices, bears a general similarity to the 
present interdependent training, which we also view as being opposite 
to unilateral training. Another cluster of descriptions exemplified by 
neglect and indifference is similar to the present unreliable unilateral 
training, whereas in the other quadrant protective and indulgent prac- 
tices are interrelated as we have suggested in describing protective 
interdependent training. 

The Problem of Variation 
in Training Conditions 

In outlining a schema for development we have assumed that train- 
ing conditions remain essentially constant. In most present training 
situations sources do not apply systematic principles of learning in an 
explicit manner. Consequently the training condition represents an 
implicit theory of learning ( Loevinger, 1959 ) that is not differentiated 
from the subjective past experiences of the source. Although a parent 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 155 

may often be unaware of how the child will construe a given training 
procedure, the psychologist must attempt to understand the child's 
mode of experiencing the training in order to discover systematic regu- 
larities between training conditions and their consequences. 

If the training condition is implicit, we expect that it would remain 
relatively constant. Although the content of the training may vary 
widely, the method or the condition antecedent to the development of 
conceptual systems is more probably very difficult to change. 

In discussing the difficulties involved in modifying parents' attitudes, 
Ausubel ( 1952 ) comments : 

Anyone who has worked with emotionally disturbed children realizes both 
the difficulty and the importance of changing parent attitudes. . . . Why 
this is so should not be difficult to understand. ... In every case they 
relate to potent needs which are current in the economy of the parent's 
personality organization (p. 295). . . . Another factor making for difficulty 
in changing parent attitudes is the complexity of the relationship between 
these attitudes and the formal philosophy of child-rearing to which a parent 
subscribes (Ausubel, 1952, p. 296) . 

However, if training methods are understood more objectively, spe- 
cific changes can be introduced when indicated. Such objective under- 
standing provides a basis for assessment and modification. 

Training conditions that assume a passive static organism are more 
likely to result in the arrestation of development at some level. Con- 
versely, training conditions that involve interdependence in which the 
subject's reactions affect the training agent and vice versa should foster 
progression. 

Training conditions are also influenced by the broader social environ- 
ment. For example, the personality characteristics of group members 
presumably interact with the method of training and produce significant 
effects on group development. Bennis and Shepard ( 1956 ) refer to the 
presence of these effects, but the systematic investigation of their 
nature is a problem for future research. Such research is of crucial 
importance for training and modification because of its implications for 
the explicit selection of group members on the basis of specific char- 
acteristics that would induce particular developmental effects. Pre- 
sumably the effects of a given training method could be magnified by 
such specific selection. 

In child development, the influence of the social environment upon 
the training condition is illustrated by the interaction between parental 
practices and sibling characteristics. Studies investigating the effects of 
sibling order on development have shown that first children are more 
adult-oriented, sensitive, good, and studious and that second children 



156 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

are more peer-directed, easy-going, and friendly (McArthur, 1956). In 
a very general sense, this difference would be expected if second chil- 
dren are ( 1 ) more likely to develop to the level of stage III functioning 
in social behavior and (2) if there is also a greater tendency for pro- 
gressive development to be arrested at this stage. The second child has 
more opportunity to utilize mutuality and reciprocity and to lean on 
the standards of the older sibling in interacting with others. Evidence 
from another study (Schroder and Janicki, 1959a) indicated that 
adolescents selected as predisposed toward third stage concepts tended 
to have more older siblings. On a probability basis we would expect 
that persons with slightly older siblings of the same sex would be less 
likely to undergo developmental arrestation at the first stage, owing to 
the greater opportunity to experience participation and mutuality in 
early training. However, this is a complex question for future research. 
A thorough analysis of these conditional effects would involve not only 
birth order but also ( 1 ) the effect of birth order under different train- 
ing methods, since training variation would produce different interaction 
effects, and (2) a more specific analysis of the details of order, for ex- 
ample, the sex of the siblings and the discrepancy between the devel- 
opmental level of the siblings. 

The Interrelationship between Training 
Conditions and Stages of Development 

In our view, one of the more important criteria for a theory of devel- 
opment is its potential to systematize the complex interrelationships 
between training conditions and stages of development so as to account 
for the effects of both short- and long-term training conditions. Table 9 
is an attempt to illustrate our analysis in summary form. It should be 
emphasized again that stages of development interact with specific 
training conditions so that (1) functioning at one stage differs from 
functioning at another stage regardless of the training and ( 2 ) function- 
ing at a given stage of development differs according to the nature of 
the training method. We have maintained earlier the importance of 
distinguishing between the arrestation of progressive development at 
a given stage and various forms of progression through that stage. This 
means specifically that it is necessary to distinguish between each one 
of the cells in Table 9. 

Such distinctions have implications for both assessment and modifi- 
cation procedures: (1) To estimate the nature (progression or arres- 
tation ) and level of conceptual development measures may be taken at 
any point, with assessment of these measures based both on the ante- 
cedent and the consequent conditions. (2) Assessment is systematically 



TRAINING CONDITIONS INFLUENCING CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT 157 

related to and has direct implications for future training or remedial 
work (see Chapter 10). (3) The diagonal squares represent the basic 
consequences of various kinds of long-term training. They outline our 
present dimensionalization of conceptual systems in terms of personality 
organization. These dimensions are of central importance for the under- 
standing of the effect of refutation (Chapter 7), the interrelationship 
between dispositional and situational factors (Chapter 8), and the 
manner of coping with the effects of threat ( Chapter 9 ) . 

In the next chapter we deal with the more arrested or closed forms of 
the conceptual systems that are implicit in the ordering of the diagonal 
squares in Table 9. 



6 Structure of 

Conceptual Systems: 

Dimensions of 

Personality 



What are the relatively stable conceptual systems that emerge from 
the interactive effects of the training conditions and stages of devel- 
opment? We assume that the result of these training conditions and 
stages of development described in the last two chapters is to produce 
particular forms of conceptual structure that we consider in the present 
chapter. The aim is to derive the dimensional variation of conceptual 
structure or organization from principles stated earlier. It should be 
noted that the present dimensionalization of personality organization 
is theoretically based and does not depend upon the relative presence 
or absence of these patterns in particular cultures. Rather than begin- 
ning with the occurrence of actual functioning characteristics in a given 
culture, we have chosen to use a developmental schema for ordering 
training methods and from these principles derive the resulting dimen- 
sional structure. Therefore, to the extent that a particular culture does 
not utilize certain training practices it would not be expected to produce 
certain patterns of conceptual structure. 

It is important to stress that in this chapter we are dealing with sys- 
tems that are relatively closed to progression or systems that are devel- 
opmentally arrested at points along the concrete-abstract dimension. Up 
to this point our emphasis has been upon a description of the stages 
when the conceptual systems are open to progression. In Chapter 5 
we outlined some of the major training conditions hypothesized to be 
antecedent to the arrestation of development at various levels. At this 
point, then, the focus is shifted to relatively stable systems of personality 
organization typifying some degree of closedness to further progression. 
The term system is substituted for stage and level for transitional stage 

158 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 159 

to imply the relative arrestation of development at a given point (for 
example, system I, system II, system III, and level I, level II, and level 
III). 

An alternate way to express this change of focus in the present chapter 
is to emphasize the transition from a between-systems to a within-sys- 
tems analysis. The introductory section of this chapter is devoted to a 
general analysis of some of the main "within-system" dimensions. The 
main body of the chapter is concerned with a description of various 
systems of personality organization falling along the concrete-abstract 
continuum. 

General Dimensions of Personality 

Variation between Systems: The 
Concrete- Abstract Dimension 

The most general dimension along which we order conceptual sys- 
tems is the concrete-abstract dimension. As indicated in Table 11, this 
dimension may be viewed in terms of four nodal stages or systems of 

TABLE 11 
Summary of Major Forms of Arrested Conceptual Structure 

Openness 



Stage 


Pole 


Closedness 


Consequences 


Terminology 


I 


Pole A 


+ 


Nodal arrestation 


System I or 




PoleB 


- 


stage I 


stage I systems 




Pole A 


+ - 


Transitional arresta- 


Level I systems 




PoleB 


+ - 


tion at level I 




II 


PoleC 


— 


Nodal arrestation 


System II or 




PoleD 


+ 


at stage II 


stage II systems 




PoleC 


+ - 


Transitional arresta- 


Level II systems 




PoleD 


+ - 


tion at level II 




III 


PoleE 


— 


Nodal arrestation 


System III or 




PoleF 


+ 


at stage III 


stage III systems 




PoleE 


+ - 


Transitional arresta- 


Level III systems 




PoleF 


+ - 


tion at level III 




IV 


PoleE 


+ 


Progression to nodal 


System IV or 




PoleF 


+ 


stage IV 


stage IV systems 



+ refers to openness to or approach tendencies toward that pole 
— refers to closedness to or avoidance tendencies toward that pole 



160 



CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 



TABLE 12 
Hypothetical Dimension between Two Systems at Any Level of Abstractness 

Dimension Dimensional Structure 



Between 




























PoleX 












PoleY 


Systems 


















Openness to 








Conflict between 


Openness to 




Pole X and 






Pole X and Pole Y 


Pole Y and 




closedness 












closedness 




to Pole Y 












to Pole X 




Nodal, 








Conflicting 




Nodal, 




non-conflicting 








transitional 




non-conflicting 




c 


ystems 








systems 




systems 


Within 






















Systems 


























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to 




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functioning that represent three phases of developmental transition: 
from stage I to stage II, from stage II to stage III, and from stage III to 
stage IV. For purposes of establishing more specific dimensions we may 
regard each of these three transitional phases as generically similar, but 
varying in terms of the level of abstractness as expressed in Table 12. 

Each of these three subdimensions may be viewed in Table 12 as ex- 
tending from a system that is open to one conceptual pole (X) and 
closed to the other (Y) through systems that are partially open and 
partially closed to both poles to the other extreme in which the system 
is open to only one conceptual pole (Y) and closed to the other (X). 
( Poles X and Y represent hypothetical poles at any level of abstraction. ) 

If the subdimension between stage I and stage II were viewed in the 
light of Table 12 the following would result: on the left-hand side of 
Table 12 is system I, which is open to pole A ( absolutistic control ) and 
closed to pole B (opposition to external control), while on the right- 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 161 

hand side is system II, which is open to pole B ( opposition to external 
control) and closed to pole A ( absolutistic control). Midway between 
these two systems are systems with varying degrees of conflict between 
pole A and pole B. This hypothetical dimension in Table 12 when ap- 
plied in relation to the concrete-abstract dimension serves as the basis 
for deriving the two dimensions of within-svstem variation: indirect- 
ness-directness of nodal system expression and the indirectness-direct- 
ness of transitional system expression. Taken together directness and in- 
directness are synonymous with clarity- ambiguity discussed in Chap- 
ter 3. 

Variation within Systems 

Before considering the two within-svstem dimensions separatelv, it 
may be noted that what we refer to as the indirectness of nodal expres- 
sion and the indirectness of transitional expression are similar in that 
both represent some form of conflict, and in this sense they can be con- 
sidered as forms of covert expression. Although we recognize this 
similarity, for expositional purposes we wish to differentiate between 
variation in expression within nodal systems and the more transitional 
systems because the antecedents underlying these expressive differences 
are somewhat independent. Indirectness of expression in nodal systems 
represents conflict between opposed expressions of the same pole (for 
example, pole A) whereas indirect expression in transitional systems 
represents conflict between the expression of opposing poles or conflict- 
ing differentiations (for example, pole A and pole B). 

THE DIRECT-INDIRECT DIMENSION WITHIN NODAL SYSTEMS 

In nodal systems the indirect or direct expression is primarily a func- 
tion of system-specific inhibition or facilitation, respectively. In this 
section we consider the general nature of this dimension within any 
one of the four nodal stages, and later in the chapter we describe the 
specific nature of this variation at each nodal stage. The relevant terms 
for dealing with this problem are presented in Tables 11 and 12. 

Before continuing, two points already discussed should be em- 
phasized: 

(1) Table 11 is an oversimplification of the range of differentiations 
to which each system is open and closed. System II might be considered 
positive toward or open to pole C and negative toward or closed to 
pole D while system III might be considered positive toward pole E and 
negative toward pole F. It should be remembered that although adjacent 
"independent" poles (for example, B and C) and "dependent" poles 
(for example, D and F) are similar, they differ in their embeddedness 



162 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

in a more concrete or abstract system of ordering. For example, pole 
C differs from pole B because of its embeddedness in mutuality, but 
arrestation of progressive development at the second stage implies 
closedness to mutuality or to pole D and relative openness to opposi- 
tional or negativistic tendencies represented by pole B or pole C. 

(2) Although expressive variations may occur at every level of 
abstractness, we assume that such variation decreases as the level of 
abstractness increases. The basis for this assumption is that the more 
interdependent the system of relatedness, the less is the necessity for 
warding off certain stimuli, which is the underlying function in indirect- 
ness. More specifically we propose that when training is not strictly 
interdependent ( that is, if it is reliable unilateral, unreliable unilateral, 
or protective interdependent) the subject learns two modes of expres- 
sion simultaneously, expressions that are systemically similar but ex- 
pressively opposite. Therefore, the more unilateral the training (or the 
less informationally open the training loop), the greater is the potential 
variation in expression. Later in this chapter we contend that in system 
I submission implies dominance; that in system II fear implies hostility; 
and that in system III seeking support implies the fear of rejection. 

We assume that indirectness of expression results from inhibition. 
Although inhibition or punishment may decrease the occurrence of a 
particular behavioral orientation in the specific inhibiting situation, the 
tendency for the same behaviors to occur in other situations may not 
be affected or may increase as a result ( Dollarcl, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, 
and Sears, 1939). R. Sears, Whiting, Nowlis, and P. Sears (1953) 
summarize this effect as follows : 

Behavior directed toward the gratification of these drives [aggression and 
dependency] can be elicited by any instigator that has commonly been as- 
sociated with reinforcement during the acquisition and activation of the 
drives. ... By stimulus generalization, the instigator quality would spread 
to other people and other frustrations . . . punishment establishes an 
avoidance response to these instigators which elicit the punished action. In 
other words, on future occasions the instigators produce a conflict between 
"approach" and "avoidance" actions. This becomes important in connection 
with the influence of stimulus generalization. Miller has shown that avoid- 
ance responses have a steeper excitation gradient than approach responses. 
As a result, a punished child tends not to respond overtly (e.g., with ag- 
gression or dependency) to the instigators (e.g., mother) to which his 
responses were originally established, but to respond instead to other 
instigators that lie farther out on the similarity dimension (Sears et al., 
1953, pp. 181-182). 

The occurrence of such displacement requires an already existing 
motivational orientation toward the inhibited behavior. In our terms 
the effect of inhibition on a given behavioral orientation will vary 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 163 

according to whether or not the inhibition is system specific. The effect 
of inhibition upon non-system specific behaviors, based on less central 
concepts, will tend more toward total extinction. However, the effect 
of inhibition upon system-specific behaviors that are central to the 
subject's relatedness to his world of objects is quite different; here, the 
conceptual orientation or the relatedness remains unchanged, but the 
way the behavior is expressed, changes. That is, the effects of inhibition 
will be understood in relation to centralitij. One of the most important 
operations defining a system-specific response would be the extent to 
which its inhibition leads to a more indirect form of expression rather 
than to extinction. In this section we deal exclusively with the effect of 
the inhibition of responses generated via central concepts. 

Regardless of the conceptual system, we propose that inhibition pro- 
duces the following effects : ( 1 ) more indirect or distorted expression in 
the inhibition situation, expression displaced to other tangential situ- 
ations and exhibited in fantasy; (2) less exploration and less active 
utilization of such orientations; and (3) more dependence of the sub- 
ject on his environment, or more passivity in relationship to his environ- 
ment, that is, the lower his expectation that he can maximize system- 
specific rewards by manipulating his own behavior. In addition to repre- 
senting directness-indirectness, this dimension may be regarded as a 
variation in independence-dependence. 

Although the above principles apply to each of the three relevant 
systems (I, II, and III) the particular direct expressions that are in- 
hibited and the nature of the inhibition differ between systems. In sys- 
tem I, dominant expressions are inhibited by increasing external control; 
in system II, aggressive, independent expressions are inhibited by the 
fear of others; and in system III active socially accommodating expres- 
sions are inhibited by increasing overprotection. 

However, regardless of the system-specific components, indirect func- 
tioning as compared to direct functioning within any system is char- 
acterized by a lower expectancy that environmental change can be 
wrought by the manipulation of the subject's own behavior; thus the 
subject becomes more dependent on some aspects of his environment. 
The system-specific aspects of this dimension are dealt with under 
each nodal system at various points in this chapter. It is noted that in- 
direct and direct poles of arrested systems of functioning bear a con- 
siderable similarity to Freud's general notion of positive and negative 
fixation. 

System-specific indirectness bears a complex relationship to the 
degree of concreteness. The more generalized the indirectness (that 
is, the more situations that elicit indirect expression ) the greater is the 



164 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

relative closedness to more abstract differentiations. Indirectness of 
expression is associated with greater impulsivity and concreteness 
within the conceptual range of abstraction in each system. 

THE INDIRECT-DIRECT DIMENSION WITHIN TRANSITIONAL SYSTEMS 

The indirect-direct dimension involves a variation in the expression 
of the underlying transitionally-arrested system, which is assumed to 
be a function of the degree of conflict toward opposing poles. In con- 
sidering the indirect type of expression it is helpful to visualize the 
hypothetical dimension in Table 12, which represents any one of the 
three transitional levels along which variation on the directness dimen- 
sion may occur. We assume that accelerated training practices lead to 
the simultaneous emergence of conflicting forms of subject-object re- 
latedness and that this emergence prohibits integration and progression. 
We assume that the individual experiencing such conflict will attempt 
to resolve it by some form of expression, and that subsequent func- 
tioning can be understood as maintaining the particular adaptation level 
reached. We assume further that if the conflict involves two central 
pressures, the result is not an extinction of the weaker pressure but is 
rather an increasing indirectness of expression of both tendencies, al- 
though the weaker tendency becomes more indirect. 

When two conflicting forms of relatedness are central, as is the case 
in transitional arrestation, two related classes of resolution can occur: 

(1) Compartmentalization. The two opposing polar expressions, for 
example pole X and pole Y in Table 12, may become highly com- 
partmentalized and function independently. If such compartmental- 
ization occurs, the boundaries between the conflicting systems become 
highly impermeable, and the different modes of functioning alternate 
from one situation to another. The more concrete the transitional sys- 
tem the more compartmentalized it can become, but some degree of 
compartmentalization can occur at more abstract transitional levels. In 
a more phenotypical context compartmentalization could be exemplified 
by an individual holding inconsistent attitudes. Abelson and Rosenberg 
( 1958 ) have recently proposed a method for discovering such imbalance 
in attitude structure. Presumably some degree of compartmentalization 
would be present if a subject were positive to the following three state- 
ments: (1)1 am for having coeds at Yale. (2)1 want good grades. (3) 
Having coeds at Yale would undoubtedly interfere with having good 
grades (Abelson and Rosenberg, 1958, p. 6). 

As the conflicting concepts become more central, the reduction of 
imbalance becomes progressively more difficult. An extreme and central 
form of compartmentalization would be exemplified by behavioral alter- 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 165 

nation between two opposed functioning systems as is found in cases 
of multiple personality and dissociated states (see Chapter 9). 

(2) Conflict. Under most circumstances, however, the degree of com- 
partmentalization between the two poles of functioning is not so ex- 
treme. In place of functioning characterized by alternation between one 
extreme and the other, behavior is characterized by conflict and the 
combined influence of both sets of pressures. Although the boundaries 
between the two systems are somewhat permeable in this condition, 
the systems remain essentially unintegrated. It has been shown that 
conflict between opposing tendencies does not generally lead to behav- 
ioral alternation between the two tendencies (Festinger, 1957). Re- 
search on conflict indicates that once a choice between two alternatives 
has been made, behavior is characterized by increased consistency 
and is accompanied by an increased sensitization and openness to in- 
formation that is congruent with the alternative chosen. There is also 
an avoidance of or an increasing closedness to information relative to 
the rejected alternative ( Festinger, 1957 ) . 

This compensatory tendency illustrates the basic motivational prin- 
ciples relating to the maintenance of positive affect outlined in Chapter 
3. The paradigm used by Festinger refers to the conflict that results when 
a subject is forced to choose between two equally preferred objects. 
After the choice has been made, the subject becomes selectively sensi- 
tized. In present terms, if the two conflicting tendencies are central forms 
of relatedness, the rejected alternative still exerts an influence on be- 
havior so that the resolution represents the combined effects of both 
tendencies in which one system of relatedness becomes more direct and 
central than the other. 

We propose that the more central (strong, important, high in va- 
lence) the conflicting alternatives and the more equal the strength of 
the two alternatives, the stronger will be the tendency toward the more 
extreme form of compartmentalization. However, when conditions 
favor the choice of one alternative over the other, even though the 
weaker is still relatively central, functioning is characterized by the 
more direct expression of one alternative and the more indirect ex- 
pression of the weaker alternative. 

Systems on the pole X side in Table 12 are characterized by (1) 
stronger and more central pole X expression, (2) pole X expression 
that is modified by the weaker, less central, and conflicting pole Y 
tendencies, (3) the greater relative indirectness of modified pole Y 
expression as opposed to the more direct forms of pole Y expression. 
Systems in the center of the dimension in Table 12 are characterized by 
extreme degrees of compartmentalization and alternating tendencies. 



166 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

The systems on the pole Y side are characterized by the opposite tend- 
encies listed for the pole X side of the dimension. 

An important difference between systems characterizing the two 
expressive poles of any transitional dimension is that when the more 
abstract pole (pole Y) is relatively more direct, the general type of 
system expression would be expected to be more indirect. The basis 
lies in the point that indirectness of expression of systems on the pole 
Y side is facilitated not only by conflicting differentiations based on 
the opposite pole, but also by the relative lack of clarity of differenti- 
ations based on the more abstract pole, compared to the more concrete 
pole (pole X). If environmental pressures induce conflict between 
pole X and pole Y at a given stage, from the very beginning, pole Y 
differentiations, representing a later and more abstract development, 
would be less well articulated and more indirect. 

We now consider the main characteristics of both sides of the di- 
mension in each transitional system. For communicative convenience 
systems falling along the two areas of the transitional dimension are 
differentially labeled by inserting the relative directness of expression 
of the two conflicting poles after identifying the particular transitional 
level. For example, level I ( A > B ) transitional systems ( pole A more 
direct), level I (B > A) transitional systems (pole B more direct), and 
so on ( see Table 13 ) . 

In conflicting or compartmentalized systems the resolution process 
is based on the principles of the maximization of positive affect ( which 
is system specific in each case ) . This involves : 

1. The avoidance or neutralization of situations that might increase 
the potential for the occurrence of expressions based on the less central 
pole. For example, functioning based on level I (B > A) transitional 
systems is expected to be characterized by the avoidance of any en- 
vironmental pressures that would enhance pole A evaluations such as 
absolutistic control. In the Festinger paradigm (1957) this would be 
exemplified by the tendency to avoid contact with supportive or posi- 
tive evidence regarding the rejected alternative after making a choice 
between two objects that were originally equally preferable. 

2. The overdriven pursuit of, or bolstering of, situations that may en- 
hance the more central pole and the overcompensatory expression of 
resolutions based on the more central pole. In level I ( B > A ) transi- 
tional systems the result would be overdriven and overcompensatory 
reactions favoring the indirect negation of any form of external control. 
In a situation involving the choice of one alternative between two objects 
that were originally equal in preference, such overcompensatory reso- 



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lutions would take the form of an increased sensitization to information 
that might support the accepted alternative. 

The combined effects of these developmental and training conditions 
are summarized in Table 13. This table presents the major conceptual 
systems and the dimensions of personality. The most generic concrete- 
abstract dimension is first broken into three generically similar dimen- 
sions, differing in degrees of abstractness. This produces four non- 
conflicted classes of systems (systems I, II, III, and IV) and three 
conflicting or transitional systems (levels I, II, and III). These seven 
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tween general functioning characteristics and developmental conditions. 

Dimensional Limits 

Since these dimensions can be expressed more or less generically, 
the representation of a dimension depends upon the purpose of the 
investigator. Earlier in this chapter we described three basic transitional 
dimensions, which extend from one stage to the next most abstract stage 
through varying degrees of transitional conflict ( Table 13 ) . When these 
dimensional cut-off points are used we emphasize the similarities and 
differences between (1) the sequential stages, for example, system I 
versus system II, and (2) within the conflicting or transitional systems, 
for example, between level I (A > B) and level I (B > A) systems. 
When focusing upon development, these dimensional limits seem to 
be more appropriate and therefore this focus is used in this chapter. 

However, for other purposes it may be convenient to think of the 
dimensional limits in terms of the overtness or centrality of system char- 
acteristics or expression (Tables 13 and 14). When construed in this 
way, the most concrete dimension would include indirect and direct 
system I expression and level I (A > B) transitional systems. In all 
cases pole A expression is more overt. The next dimension would extend 
from level I (B > A) transitional systems through indirect and direct 
system II expression to level II (C > D) transitional systems. Since 
pole C of stage II concepts is similar to pole B expression of stage I 
concepts, these three systems can be grouped together on the basis of 
similarity of overt expression. Two other dimensions involving the 



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170 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

greater centrality of, and overtness of, systems III and IV tendencies 
are also illustrated in Table 14. 

These dimensional limits combine systems that are similar in terms 
of the nature of the most central concepts and the nature of overt ex- 
pression. For example, stage II related systems include level I (B > A) 
transitional systems, stage II systems, and level II ( C > D ) transitional 
systems. All these involve varying degrees of the greater overtness of 
oppositional or negativistic tendencies. But from another point of view 
these three stage II related classes of systems are relatively more hetero- 
geneous, for example, in regard to the nature of the underlying conflict. 
Consequently, when dealing with personality organization we empha- 
size the three basic transitional or between-system dimensions, but 
when our focus moves to a study of conflict resolution in Chapter 7, we 
utilize the cut-off points described in Table 14. 

Generalization of System Functioning 

The relative closedness of a conceptual system to the next most ab- 
stract form of differentiation required for development constitutes the 
degree of arrestation. The more closed the system to differentiations 
required for progression, ( 1 ) the more progressive development will 
be retarded, (2) the more difficult is the instigation of re-educative or 
modification procedures, and in the more extreme cases, (3) the more 
generalized is the level of arrestation across different areas of the life 
space. These factors are of particular importance in considering the total 
personality. 

When we speak of a particular system as being engaged, we refer to 
a particular area of development, for example, to interpersonal relation- 
ships to parents, to mathematics, to religion, to politics. In Chapters 4, 
5, 6, 7, and 8, we are not particularly concerned with the total person- 
ality, but rather are dealing with the characteristics of various systems 
of functioning regardless of the class of object or the degree of general- 
ization. The same reasoning could be applied to any concept, attitude, 
or solution in any area of development or even to the total personality 
provided that the personality was characterized by a given level or 
stage of functioning in most areas of the life space. The advantage of 
dealing with single concepts or attitudes in research work, as we show 
in Chapters 7 and 8, is that the problem of generality is reduced. When 
dealing with the total self-system or personality, however, we must take 
cognizance of the level of conceptual structure in a sampling of areas 
in the life space. Some individuals may be relatively homogeneous in 
that the same conceptual system is engaged over most relevant areas; 
others may be very heterogeneous, utilizing system I concepts in some 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 171 

areas (for example, religious attitudes) and system IV concepts in 
other areas (for example, social relationships). 

In the next few chapters we are chiefly concerned with the character- 
istics of system structure and functioning regardless of the area. In the 
remainder of this chapter the focus is upon systems that are relatively 
closed to differentiations required for progressive development. In 
Chapters 9 and 10, however, the focus also includes the increasing 
generality of conceptual structures involved across different areas of 
development for a given person. 

Stage I Conceptual Systems 

We have proposed that reliable unilateral training increases the 
closedness of stage I concepts to progressive development. Under these 
conditions development proceeds within the conceptual limits of stage 
I functioning. Investigations indicate that unilateral reliable training 
is associated with greater submissiveness (Symonds, 1939; Baldwin, 
1955), suggesting that the subject initially learns submission to source 
demands as a means of obtaining system-specific reward. However, as 
development within this system continues the subject learns to antic- 
ipate the consequences of his behavior, which means that, under 
conditions of reliable unilateral training, he learns the role of the source 
upon whom the subject's behavior is externally determined. In a sense, 
in system I submission implies the acquisition of the dominant role, 
implying an acceptance and internalization of external dominance. Such 
an acquisition is illustrated by children's scolding themselves, for ex- 
ample, children may say, "No, no" as they reach for a forbidden object, 
or say, "Naughty" as they engage in a prohibited activity. We propose 
that reliable unilateral training maximizes the simultaneous acquisition 
of dominance and submission, which are closely related to the phenom- 
enon of "identification with the aggressor" (Anna Freud, 1950). As 
Hoffer ( 1951 ) expresses it: 

The disorder, bloodshed and destruction which mark the trial of a 
rising mass movement lead us to think of the followers of the movement as 
being by nature rowdy and lawless. . . . [Actually,] The true believer, no 
matter how rowdy and violent his acts, is basically an obedient and sub- 
missive person. The Christian converts who staged razzias against the 
University of Alexandria and lynched professors suspected of unorthodoxv 
were submissive members of a compact church. The Communist rioter is a 
servile member of a party. Both the Japanese and Nazi rowdies were the 
most disciplined people the world has seen (Hoffer, 1951, p. 115). 

A similar view has been proposed by Maccoby (1959) as follows: 



172 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

If most things that an individual wants are not under his control but under 
the control of others, then presumably much of the vicarious trial-and-error 
that he engages in must involve his trying out various approaches to 
getting the help or avoiding the censure of others, and imagining the 
probable responses to these approaches. . . . Our position says that a 
child should covertly rehearse both the rewarding and the punishing actions 
characteristic of his parents, for both are highly relevant to him in guiding 
his plans about future actions (Maccoby, 1959, p. 246). 

Developing Orientations in System I 

Subsequent development in this system is characterized by the 
categorical or black-white nature of judgment and the emergence of 
depersonalized criteria and roles, which are now discussed. 

THE CATEGORICAL NATURE 
OF JUDGMENT AND THOUGHT 

The subject attempts to cope with reliable unilateral training meth- 
ods by making rigid discriminations between those behaviors that are 
tolerated and those behaviors that are not tolerated by the source. The 
subject therefore becomes sensitized to relatively inflexible dichotomies 
such as right or wrong and true or false. To be unsure about the external 
criterion is catastrophic for the person because external criteria repre- 
sent the most central anchor for making judgments about the con- 
sequences of his behavior. Ambiguity of criteria is threatening and is 
avoided primarily through the adoption of categorical rules, which 
provide ready-made, concrete structures against which decisions can 
be made (Adorno et al., 1950). 

Another significant orientation which emerges, concerns the manner 
in which self-evaluations function in relation to externally given criteria. 
The more a person bases his self-evaluation on externally anchored judg- 
ments the less likely he will be to experience rewards following improv- 
ment or progress judged against his own past experience. The person 
functioning in terms of system I tends to evaluate his behavior in terms 
of the perceived discrepancy between the "real" and the more absolute 
"ideal." This orientation is consistent with the development of a strong 
"conscience" or "superego," which would be expected as a result of this 
training (Peck, 1958). The following verbal response is illustrative of 
the external and categorical nature of self-evaluative judgments in this 
system. The subject was first asked to place people known to him, five 
years ago, at regular intervals along a scale extending from most nega- 
tive to most positive. Then he was asked, "Where would you place 
yourself?" 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 173 

I probably have myself on the scale twice; to put it in other terms I have 
a double scale. Now, the basic assumption of this scale, I guess, in my mind 
is that the values I assign to people, the box in which I label them, is really 
not a strict invention of my own but that, let's say, most other people would 
have. If I had put, let's say, some people at a given point, that these people 
would pretty much see themselves on the scale at the place where I put 
them. Yes, I think this is the basic assumption; otherwise, the scale is not 
valid. . . . What I mean by a double scale or two points on the scale, 
which is basically the same thing, is that there is one point where I wanted 
to see myself and where I wanted others to see me, and a point where I 
really think I am. I guess this is pretty clear what I mean by that sort of 
a point for an ideal "I" which included all of my ideals and the type of 
person I wanted to be which equaled the person I wanted others to think 
me to be, and then let's say my honest judgment of myself which shows how 
far off I am, let's say, from the ideal. 

ABSOLUTE OR IMPERSONALIZED CRITERIA AND ROLES 

Up to this point we have been speaking of the source as providing or 
embodying the direct criterion of the subject's behavior. As development 
proceeds within system I the criterion for behavior continues to be ex- 
ternal ( because of closedness to opposition that limits the development 
of internal control), but the personal authority of the source is replaced 
by absolutistic and impersonalized rules. This change is regarded as a 
within-system change since the associations remain unilateral and 
absolutistic. The shift in locus of criterion from the source's personal 
authority to generalized rules occurs in part through experience with a 
variety of authorities. Once such rules take on importance, they cease 
to depend upon other people and come to represent absolute, categor- 
ical, impersonalized rules, which are beyond the influence of people 
and rest instead on extrapersonal power or "natural" law. 

Another developmental consequence of reliable unilateral training 
is that when the subject resists source control at some point such re- 
sistance is expressed indirectly because the system is maximally closed 
to opposition to external control. One orientation that "minimizes" the 
effect of source control without opposing it openly is the curtailment of 
the expression of positive or negative affect. Passive resistance serves 
the function of active opposition. As one subject reported, "I remember 
being mad at my mother but didn't express it ... I suppressed my 
pleasure too ... I didn't want people to know what went on in me. . . . 
If other people can affect me, they can control me ... I would try to 
keep it so that others would find difficulty in knowing what I was think- 
ing." Passive resistance is one of the most common modes of reacting to 
an authority who utilizes power to restrict oppositional tendencies, and 
it is often deliberately used as a weapon against such authority, as ex- 



174 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

emplified by Mahatma Ghandi (Fischer, 1950). By "deliberate use" 
we mean the utilization of passive resistance by a person who is not 
necessarily functioning in terms of system I, but rather is merely using 
a system I technique when he finds himself in a situation much like 
that of a person arrested at stage I functioning. In this case the choice 
of technique might consist of a more abstract process. 

Development within system I involves the emergence of deperson- 
alized roles and the categorical labeling of roles that are enacted in the 
presence of certain stimuli regardless of the context. Authoritative 
sources, being associated with external criteria, are labeled omnipotent 
and therefore induce submission; neutral sources induce an ambivalent 
tendency to submit and dominate; whereas non-authoritative sources 
are viewed as inferior and therefore either disregarded or rejected. The 
submissive role, whether enacted by the self or another person (for 
example, minority groups), comes to be viewed as weak and inferior 
and the dominant role as superior. 

Other people are assigned absolute status positions, and the subject 
develops different roles, which he adopts toward people depending upon 
their status position. The definition of these absolute roles and rules is 
generally determined by the value orientations of the power figures in 
the subject's membership group, thus avoiding ambiguity of criteria. 
In this sense the personality organization would be more tradition 
oriented ( Riesman, 1950 ) . Again we illustrate the categorical nature of 
roles by a subject's response. First the subject was asked to order people 
known to him five years ago along the scale from most negative to most 
positive. His response, when asked to describe the basis of ordering, 
was : 

On the right I put the people I respected for some reason or other be- 
cause of knowledge or achievement, people who went into the group of 
authority, people who I felt obliged to because of some favor. Then sort of 
the equals, in the middle, and to the left the people I didn't like because 
they were stupid, useless, or boring, and those whom I out-and-out hated. 
. . . Now if you put all of those people on a scale ... I think you can 
hardly find a situation, but that I mean my reaction to people or my at- 
titudes towards them, which was not completely influenced by where they 
were on the scale, and, therefore, I don't think that there was hardly any 
situation in which I was purely 100 percent natural myself. I would say 
that everything to the right of the middle point, or to the right of the equal, 
first of all, gave me a feeling of uneasiness, either because I felt obliged for 
a favor they rendered me or I didn't want to make a mistake because I 
faced the person in authority. . . . Now, if we go to the middle, this group 
of people should really be the people who should have given me the most 
pleasure and ease or what have you. These are the people to whom I felt 
I belonged and I had the wish of belonging, and my whole attitude in this 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 175 

case was a kind of hunting for clues or "do I really belong" or "am I 
accepted?" So again, even in this group I don't think my behavior was un- 
studied or, for the lack of a better word, "natural." ... It was in this 
group that I really pushed and tried to get ahead of them. I wanted to 
lead, I certainly had impulses in this direction with these people. I think 
these two kinds of descriptions already make the third one quite obvious, 
that is, with the people to the left of the middle. I think that I was somehow 
so strictly trained and had enough of what you call social graces that I 
was never rude to these people, but I certainly tried to avoid them, tried to 
avoid their company, tried to avoid conversation with them because I felt 
it was a waste of time. I could leam nothing from them, any discussion with 
them would be fruitless. I said that I was probably never rude, but I cer- 
tainly was often very curt, and certainly, if I could not avoid contact and 
discussion, I probably spoke down to them. When I look all through this, 
what I just said, one thing which strikes me as relevant, besides the way 
I look at people, is that if we should want to connect all of this up that the 
only situation in which I am natural when I don't play a role, where I 
don't condition my behavior after something I want, is when I am un- 
pleasant and am sort of nasty to those people to the left. 

STAGE I SYSTEMS, ACHIEVEMENT, AND AUTHORITARIANISM 

The importance of an external criterion to both the subject and 
source for judging personal achievement in system I is associated with 
a greater concern about achievement. However, as we stated earlier 
(Chapter 5), this concern does not necessarily mean that these indi- 
viduals will perform at a higher level of achievement. Rather, we 
would expect achievement efforts in system I to be characterized by 
concreteness, literal adherence to instructions, with a minimum of 
elaboration or creativity. Supporting this expectation is the finding that 
child-training practices similar to reliable unilateral training apparently 
suppress curiosity in children (Baldwin et al., 1949). 

The tendency to bifurcate events in terms of black-white categories 
would also be expected in this system. There should be a greater tend- 
ency to view persons who are different from oneself ( non-membership 
groups and those who follow a different criterion) as inferior. Such 
a form of relatedness has been described as authoritarianism ( Adorno 
et al., 1950) and ego-defensiveness (Katz, Sarnoff, and McClintock, 
1954; McClintock, 1958). Therefore, to the degree that the California 
F scale assesses stereotypic thinking, authoritarianism, and the external 
attribution of causality, this scale could be an operation for arrested 
forms of system I functioning. However, the F scale would also ap- 
pear to measure system II ( Extrapunitive ) tendencies and system III 
(Other-directed) tendencies (cf. McClintock, 1958) to some extent, 
and owing to item content would not be expected to pick out the author- 
itarian "liberal." 



176 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

If system I is viewed as similar to authoritarianism, the material from 
interviews with parents of high F subjects described by Adorno et al., 
supports our contentions that ( 1 ) discipline was administered primarily 
for the violation of absolutistic or moralistic rules, (2) discipline was 
presented as a force outside the child to which he must submit, and (3) 
the values imposed by the parent were entirely the values of adult 
society, beyond the comprehension of the child (Adorno et al., 1950). 
Using the same approach Hart (1957) found a significant tendency for 
the parents of high F subjects to utilize "non-love oriented" techniques 
of punishment, described by Whiting and Child (1953) as involving 
physical punishment, threats of physical punishment, and punishment 
by ridicule. 

The original work of the California group (Adorno et al., 1950) 
identified the authoritarian personality with ( 1 ) rigidity, the intolerance 
of ambiguity, and the dogmatism of attitude, (2) a greater tendency 
toward anti-introceptive orientations as opposed to reflective insight, 
( 3 ) the anti-scientific attitudes based on a relative inability to question 
rules, dogma, or principles, and (4) an anti-democratic ideology. 

From our point of view this system I form of relatedness lacks the 
mutuality, interdependence, and autonomy required for democratic 
functioning. However, it should be noted that there is no necessary 
relationship between the form of relatedness and the content of any 
particular attitude, for example, between authoritarian relatedness and 
anti-Semitism. Although the nature of relatedness and content may be 
empirically related in a given subgroup or culture, the two aspects 
are independent — for example, in another culture authoritarian related- 
ness (or system I relatedness) may be associated with anti- American- 
ism. The cross-cultural comparison of correlations between the form 
of relatedness and its content would shed light on the training practices 
used by cultures in reference to particular content areas. 

Indirect-Direct Variation 
within System I 

Since reliable unilateral training involves the simultaneous emergence 
of submission and dominance, the source's inhibition of dominant be- 
havior produces greater indirectness and passivity of system I function- 
ing. Levy's (1943) study of the effects of "dominant" overprotection 
and Ausubel's (1952) observations of the effects of parental overdom- 
ination are similar to inhibitive unilateral training. These investigators 
found this training to be antecedent to the development of such traits 
as docility, obedience, politeness, submission, timidity, disinterested- 
ness, and passive quarrelsomeness. In indirect expression, the subject 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 177 

depends more upon the source and his behavior is characterized by 
submissiveness. In direct expression, on the other hand, in which the 
dominant role is not inhibited, the subject is more likely to utilize an 
impersonalized criterion and to be more reality-oriented, tradition- 
directed, and his behavior may appear to be "independent" or active. 
Since dominance and submission are different expressions of the 
same general conceptual system, we would expect to find an association 
between these two tendencies. Such an association has been commonly 
observed in clinical practice. In Fromm's (1941) words: 

It seems that this tendency to make oneself the absolute master over 
another person is the opposite of the masochistic tendency, and it is puz- 
zling that these two tendencies should be so closely knitted together. No 
doubt with regard to its practical consequences the wish to be dependent 
or to suffer is the opposite of the wish to dominate and to make others 
suffer. Psychologically, however, both tendencies are the outcomes of one 
basic need, springing from the inability to bear the isolation and the weak- 
ness of one's own self. I suggest calling the aim which is at the basis of 
both sadism and masochism: symbiosis. Symbiosis, in this psychological 
sense, means the union of one individual self with another self (or any 
other power outside of the own self) in such a way as to make each lose 
the integrity of its own self and to make them completely dependent on 
each other. The sadistic person needs his object just as much as the maso- 
chistic needs his. Only instead of seeking security by being swallowed, he 
gains it by swallowing somebody else. In both cases the integrity of the in- 
dividual self is lost. In one case I dissolve myself in an outside power; I 
lose myself. In the other case I enlarge myself by making another being 
part of myself and thereby I gain the strength I lack as an independent self. 
It is always the inability to stand the aloneness of one's individual self that 
leads to the drive to enter into a symbiotic relationship with someone else. 
It is evident from this why masochistic and sadistic tendencies are always 
blended with each other. Although on the surface they seem contradictions, 
they are essentially rooted in the same basic need. People are not sadistic or 
masochistic, but there is a constant oscillation between the active and the 
passive side of the symbiotic complex, so that it is often difficult to determine 
which side of it is operating at a given moment. In both cases individuality 
and freedom are lost (Fromm, 1941, pp. 157-159). 

In more indirect system I functioning there are fewer situations or a 
narrower range of situations that elicit dominant behaviors. Also the 
expectation that the criterion of a person's behavior can be mediated 
through his own behavior will be lower for indirect than direct system 
I functioning. For example, in the extreme case of indirectness the ex- 
pression of dominance might be restricted to situations involving a 
powerless and weak individual or minority group. 



178 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Stage II Conceptual Systems 

Arrestation of progressive development at the very beginning of 
stage II, leading to system II conceptual functioning, has been de- 
scribed as a consequence of unreliable unilateral training. What begins 
as an early, perhaps immature, attempt to behave independently of 
external control transforms, under unreliable unilateral training, into 
a negative attitude toward the external source. This developing counter- 
personal system of relatedness hastens the abandonment of the abso- 
luteness of, or trust in, external criteria (closedness to pole A). The 
subject learns to view the source as unreliable, to look upon control with 
suspicion, and to externalize blame. Accordingly, he views attempts 
at control by the source as interfering or malevolent. The aim of behav- 
ior is to avoid any form of dependency on authority or control because 
of the negative consequences associated with such controlling attempts. 

The underlying motivational orientation involves two expressions, 
which develop simultaneously: (1) the avoidance of control, stemming 
from the fear of others, which may be associated with "flight," and ( 2 ) 
the destruction of the source of control. Related to this second form of 
expression is the perception of any situation that places the subject in 
a dependent relationship or under any form of control, as an attack that 
comes to be associated with aggression. Utilizing Miller's (1937) analy- 
sis of displacement, Whiting and Child (1953) conclude that "hypoth- 
eses that trace fear of others to the projection and displacement of 
aggression are much the most consistent with the whole range of find- 
ings we have been able to present" (Whiting and Child, 1953, p. 303- 
304). 

From our point of view, the punishment or inhibition of aggression 
should result in ( 1 ) fear of others, both in terms of being controlled or 
becoming dependent, (2) indirect expression of aggression, (3) dis- 
placement of more active or direct forms of aggression, 1 and (4) a 
greater tendency toward passivity or toward behavior calculated to 
avoid retaliation in the training situation. The less aggression is inhib- 
ited (for example, due to neglect or indifference) the more direct is 
its expression and the less is the fear of others. 

1 It has been shown, for example, that cultures having fewer nurturant agents 
protect the infant less, show him less affection, are more inconsistent, take less 
care of his needs and are more punitive (inhibitive unreliable unilateral training) 
exhibit more aggressive beliefs about supernaturals (that is, displace the more 
active forms of aggression ) ( Lambert, Triandis, and Wolf, 1959 ) . 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 179 

Developing Orientations in System II 

Confronted by unreliable unilateral training, the subject does not 
learn to adopt the role of the source. Since the training conditions neces- 
sary for the emergence of conscience or empathy are both lacking in 
this condition, interpersonal relations are very tenuous. Other people 
are "negatively" weighted, particularly in situations in which they de- 
mand some form of dependency. Negative weighting may be inferred 
from such referents as (1) source deprecation following a controlling 
or negative communication, (2) lack of effectiveness of social rewards 
and punishments (see Chapter 7), and (3) the inability to form lasting 
reciprocal relationships with others ( see Chapter 9 ) . In this sense func- 
tioning described as anti-social, "psychopathic," or "delinquent" would 
exemplify development arrested at stage II, but as we show in later 
chapters not all functioning commonly described as anti-social is stage 
II in origin. 

One apparently puzzling feature of this argument is the common 
observation that "delinquent" groups are very cohesive (Whyte, 1943). 
Two points may be noted in relation to this apparent contradiction. 
First, not all delinquent gang members are functioning within stage II 
systems. Second, the system of subject-object relatedness of group mem- 
bers does not necessarily determine the degree of cohesiveness in group 
functioning, but only the nature of cohesiveness. The cohesiveness of 
system II-disposed group members would be expected to rest upon the 
extent to which the norms protected them from both dependence on 
each other and from interpersonal interference. The rigid differentiation 
between member roles and the explicit formulation of role expectations 
of each member would serve this purpose, and it is just such character- 
istics that have been observed in delinquent gangs. This is not to deny 
that such groups are also characterized by hierarchical structures. 

One of the general orientations that emerges as a result of devel- 
opment within closed stage II systems is the tendency to maintain 
self-evaluations in the face of negative evaluative information. In order 
to maintain self-evaluation under such circumstances, reactions such 
as deprecating the source or externalizing blame may be utilized. These 
defensive reactions prevent the modification of behavior as a conse- 
quence of informational feedback. It has been shown that children, 
who perceived themselves either as extrinsically valued by parents or 
as rejected, are likely to hold omnipotent conceptions of their own 
capacities and to maintain tenaciously high levels of aspirations in the 
face of failure (Ausubel et al., 1954). Ausubel (1952) viewed the de- 
velopment of this orientation as one aspect of the child's failure to 



180 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

"satellize," which in turn results from parental rejection or extrinsic 
evaluation. For Ausubel, satellization consists of the child's obtaining a 
derived source of status and intrinsic feelings of adequacy through 
some form of dependency on the parent. Training that involves extrinsic 
evaluation and also fails to provide the necessary conditions for satel- 
lization should closely parallel what we have described as unreliable 
unilateral training. Referring to the consequences of such training, 
Ausubel states: 

Hence the shift to a derived source of status and intrinsic feelings of 
adequacy is blocked. As before, ego aspiration level continues to be deter- 
mined in reference to the child's own power to influence and control his 
environment: His status remains a creature of his own strivings and 
capacities. He does not aspire to a position where he shares vicariously in 
the prestige of others by virtue of a dependent relationship to them 
(Ausubel, 1952, p. 116). 

A related orientation that develops is the avoidance of commitment. 
Such avoidance is a relatively indirect expression of system II func- 
tioning. If an individual cannot anticipate or trust another's reaction 
he may learn to avoid commitment to other people. The effect of non- 
commitment is that he cannot be proven wrong and thus can maintain 
high self -evaluations while avoiding dependency. Like other devel- 
oping orientations within this conceptual system, non-commitment 
serves to avoid the dependent relationship on another person that has 
been associated with negative consequences in the past. In addition, 
however, non-commitment also reduces the occurrence of approval and 
may increase the difficulties encountered in relating to others and inter- 
fere with subsequent development to more abstract levels. 

Indirect-Direct Variation 
within System II 

Arrestation of development at stage II may be a result of two specific 
forms of unreliable unilateral training: (1) unreliable control or (2) 
neglect and indifference. Unreliable control leads to indirectness of 
system II expression. By unreliable control we mean training pressures 
that attempt to control or force the child to be dependent on the parent 
without providing the basis for a trusting relationship beween parent 
and child. Trust is a necessary condition for the child to attach posi- 
tive weighting to the parent. In more theoretical terms such training 
leads to closedness to pole A of stage I, a minimum of interiorization of 
external criterion, and a minimum of conflict between pole A and pole 
B. The subject simultaneously learns a fear of others, based on a pro- 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 181 

jection of his own inhibited aggressive tendencies toward them. There- 
fore, indirect system II expression is assumed to be a function of un- 
reliable control. 

On the other hand, direct system II expression stems from neglect 
or indifference. The more indirect form of system II functioning is 
based on the fear of a distrusted source and accompanied by behaviors 
calculated to avoid hostility from and dependence upon such sources 
or other persons. The direct tendencies are aimed more at validating 
the subject's ability to oppose dependence on authority or control. In 
both forms of expression, since the source is essentially negative, the 
subject fails to interiorize external criteria as absolutes ( conscience or 
superego ) . In this sense there is a minimum of systemic conflict between 
pole A and B tendencies. However, this lack of conflict stems not from 
an integration of the two poles, as it would in progression, but from 
closedness to or a rejection of pole A and other forms of dependence. 

Accelerated unilateral training induces relatively less distrust and 
greater openness to pole A. As pole A thereby becomes more central, 
there is an increase in the degree of conflict within the system ( that is, 
between pole A and pole B ) . We now turn to this transitional dimen- 
sion, falling between the reference points of pole A and pole B. 

Level I Transitional Arrestation 

We have proposed that accelerated unilateral training is one of the 
major conditions underlying the level I transitional dimension. Such 
training is expected to result in the simultaneous development of two 
compartmentalized systems of relatedness, which involve conflicting 
motivational orientations: (1) dependency upon absolutistic criteria 
(achievement) against which self-esteem is judged and (2) the avoid- 
ance of dependency on external criteria against which self -evaluation is 
judged. The dimensions shown in Table 15 are an ordering of con- 
flicting conceptual systems at one extreme at which pole A differen- 
tiations are most central and are expressed most directly whereas pole 
B differentiations are less central — that is, level I ( A > B ) tran- 
sitional systems — at the other extreme at the right hand pole at which 
pole B differentiations are more central than the conflicting pole A dif- 
ferentiations — that is, level I (B > A) transitional systems. 

The point of arrestation on the dimension in Table 15 is determined 
by how extreme the severity of acceleration of unilateral training is, 
extreme acceleration presumably permitting the subject to achieve only 
occasional rewards (Brown, 1953; Grosslight and Child, 1947). The 



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STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 183 

degree of severity or acceleration must be judged relative to the sub- 
ject's potentialities and developmental readiness-to-achieve at the de- 
manded level. 

When pole A is more central, we expect ( 1 ) an avoidance of op- 
position to external control and (2) overcompensatory pole A tend- 
encies, in the form of concretistic striving in "safe" areas, for example, 
areas having a high degree of structure such as achievement in the more 
traditional professions and occupations, or achievement in science 
characterized by the lack of creativity or questioning of basic principles. 
Such overcompensatory achievement reduces conflict in two ways. 
First, by cautiously conforming to the accelerated demands, opposition 
to authority is avoided. Secondly, the achievements may lead to broader 
rewards and permit a less direct dependence on the source thus also 
reducing the likelihood that resentment of accelerated demands will be 
expressed. Achievement and fear of dependency are closely related in 
level I (A > B) systems, the fear of dependency being more indirectly 
expressed. 

At the right-hand extreme of the dimension in Table 15, the level I 
(B > A) transitional systems, we would expect the following: (1) the 
avoidance of situations involving external control and (2) overdriven 
tendencies toward the indirect expression of negativism toward control. 
Both involve a decrease in overt achievement tendencies, which is gen- 
erally more typical of stage II related systems involving the greater 
centrality of poles B or C. 

In studying the relationships between training practices and adoles- 
cent personality structure, Peck ( 1958 ) found that consistency of train- 
ing induces greater superego strength, or, in our terms, greater depend- 
ence on an interiorized absolute criterion (system I relatedness ) . 
However, as the severity of training increases (or becomes accelerated, 
in present terms ) the effect is that of a "hostility-guilt complex" ( which 
resembles the transitional conflict between system I and system II). It 
has also been shown experimentally that unreasonable demands by a 
source ( probably indicating an increase in acceleration or unreliability ) 
result in a low level of persistence or concern about achievement in 
children (Wolf, 1938) . This is what we would expect in level I (B > A) 
transitional systems. 

We expect that conflict in the area of achievement, which most gen- 
erally characterizes the level I (A > B) transitional systems, will be 
expressed in projective or fantasy behavior. McClelland et al. (1953) 
used a modification of the Thematic Apperception Test to measure the 
degree of concern (and presumably conflict) about achievement 
through fantasy expressions. Evidence based on the use of this measure 



184 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

appears to support our expectations about the main features of person- 
ality organization developing within level I transitional systems. 

Accelerated unilateral training should lead to conflict in the areas of 
achievement and dependency. One index of this conflict is the occur- 
rence of achievement themes in fantasy productions. McClelland and 
Friedman (1952) found a relationship between dependency and a 
concern about achievement. They suggest, as do Brown (1953) and 
Child ( 1954 ) , that such a relationship could be due to severe independ- 
ence training by parents who exert greater pressures toward achieve- 
ment. In a study of college males a positive correlation was found be- 
tween the severity of child-training practices and achievement themes 
in fantasy productions (McClelland et al., 1953). 

Similarly, Winterbottom (1953) found that the expression of achieve- 
ment themes by boys between eight and ten years of age was signifi- 
cantly related to the following early training practices: (1) earlier 
demands for independent achievement and the imposition of certain 
restrictions at an earlier age (accelerated unilateral training) and (2) 
reward for fulfilling parental demands and reward for the acceptance 
of restrictions (training accelerated, but not unreliable). In addition, 
these results indicated a significant negative relationship between 
achievement themes and the total number of restrictions in training. To 
the extent that a high degree of restrictiveness is associated with greater 
acceleration of unilateral training or with the development of stage II 
relatedness, this latter result supports the present contention. 

Although the level I (A > B) transitional systems are characterized 
by conflict and concern about achievement, it does not necessarily 
mean that such training produces higher levels of overt achievement. 
The complexity of the interrelationship is indicated by Winterbottom's 
(1953) findings that fantasy measures (conflict about achievement) 
were generally positively related to actual levels of achievement and, on 
the other hand, Sanford's (1943) findings that these two measures were 
negatively related. We discuss the complex relationship between the 
abstractness of conceptual systems and achievement at the conclusion 
of this chapter, but at this point we may note that such a relationship 
depends in part upon the measure of overt achievement. For example, 
we would expect level I ( A > B ) transitional functioning to be posi- 
tively correlated with the quantity of output, the detail of output, and 
so on. If these measures of performance were valued by the source, then 
the correlation would be positive. However, if achievement involved 
less structured tasks that demand more abstractness and greater cre- 
ativity and questioning of principles, we would expect negative cor- 
relations owing to the concreteness of functioning at level I. 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 185 

Lazarus et al. (1957) measured the tendency for subjects to express 
a concern about achievement using a modification of the Thematic 
Apperception Test (McClelland et al., 1953). Subjects were asked to 
reproduce, in writing, a passage they had heard on a tape recorder. 
( While listening, the subjects were permitted to start and stop the play- 
back as often as they pleased. ) Reproductions were scored in terms of 
their concreteness, defined as a literal, word-for-word reproduction, 
listening to small sections and reproducing them more or less verbatim, 
and so forth. In keeping with our expectations, subjects showing greater 
concern about achievement behaved more concretistically and literally 
in the experimental task. 

Stage III Conceptual Systems 

We have proposed that system III functioning, being closed to 
negative independence ( pole C ) , to autonomy ( pole D ) , and to further 
progressive development, is induced through protective interdependent 
training. If the training method protects the subject from experiencing 
the consequences of his own actions, he will experience uncertainty in 
situations that are unstructured or in which the supporting source is 
absent. The subject learns to rely on other people as anticipators of his 
success and failure, thereby avoiding negative consequences. 

It is important to distinguish system III from system I forms of related- 
ness, since both involve a form of dependency. While system I involves 
absolute criteria, system III involves criteria relevant to situational 
conditions. While system I involves dominance or submission, system 
III involves seeking protection and actively seeking positive relation- 
ships with other relevant people. System III behavior is anchored in the 
maintenance of positive relationships by "pleasing" rather than by 
submitting to or dominating others. System III functioning is character- 
ized by less diffuseness and a greater differentiation of the self from 
the world; it is closed to autonomy rather than opposition and open to 
mutuality rather than unilateral dependence or external control. 

Some of the major orientations that emerge following the arrestation 
of progressive development at the onset of stage III are: (1) the 
equivalence of failure and rejection, ( 2 ) fear of rejection and the pre- 
mium placed upon maintaining positive relationships, ( 3 ) internal cau- 
sation and self -blame, and (4) jealousy. Within-system expression in 
system III varies from helplessness and other indirect demands for 
protection to socially more direct accommodating reactions such as 
outgoing attempts to please others and the denial of rejection. 



186 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Developing Orientations in System III 

The resolution of uncertainty or avoidance of failure comes to be 
associated with the reception of support from a valued person. As 
development proceeds within system III, the subject becomes more 
likely to experience "aloneness" as equivalent to failure. Since rejection 
and the expectation of failure are poorly differentiated, they may be 
transformed as experientially equivalent: rejection increases the ex- 
pectancy of failure, whereas failure indicates a lack of support or love 
from others. 

An individual so predisposed is therefore subject to continual "sepa- 
ration" fears. Protective training increases the sensitization to rejection. 
Experiments have shown that the physical separation of a young child 
from its mother for short periods of time leads to a "grief" reaction and 
sensitizes the child to a fear of aloneness, separation, or rejection ( Spitz, 
1946). Because protective interdependent training effects and physical 
separation are interrelated, we would expect separation to produce a 
stronger effect on children so trained than on children trained by other 
methods. Similarly, experiences related to other forms of separation, for 
example the severance of relationship ties due to social mobility, 
divorce, going to college, death of parents, and so forth, would be ex- 
pected to be more threatening to individuals engaging system III 
concepts. 

Development within this system is characterized by the emergence 
of orientations in which interpersonal relationships are highly salient. 
The subject strives for approval and to avoid disapproval or rejection 
from valued persons. Such individuals are in a state of continual com- 
petition with others in order to win approval from relevant people. In 
interpersonal relationships this approximates what is more generally 
referred to as "jealousy." Developmental studies indicate that pro- 
tective and overprotective child-training practices are antecedent to 
jealous behavior ( Radke, 1946 ) . Such a predisposition to interpret other 
people's behavior along the dimension of acceptance-rejection and to 
fear rejection produces reactions varying in their activity of expression. 
A child may behave in a way that indicates his need for the support and 
affection of the other person (passive expression), or he may compete 
with others to obtain greater acceptance from a particular person, for 
example, by adopting his values, pleasing him, and so forth (active 
expression). If these resolutions should fail, so that the subject per- 
ceives himself as being unable to enlist the support of others, rage may 
be directed against the other person for "withholding" his support 
(Chapter 9); or the rage may be displaced onto a real or fantasied 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 187 

rival. The latter occurs especially when a particular source is too 
"valuable" to risk losing by anger expressed directly and overtly. 

These reactions illustrate one of the distinguishing characteristics of 
system III relatedness as opposed to system I and system II relatedness, 
namely, the tendency for the subject to perceive his own behavior as 
being causal or as affecting the criterion. Since blame for rejection is 
initially turned inward and the subject accepts the responsibility for 
the consequences of his own behavior, he is likely to change his behavior 
(generally in a more socially accommodating way) so as to enlist the 
support, help, or affection of other people. 

In their study of attitudes, Smith, Bruner, and White ( 1956 ) suggest 
that structure ( or the form of relatedness ) and the content ( or object ) 
of attitudes may be independent. They presented three functional 
determinants of attitudes : ( 1 ) realistic, ( 2 ) social, and ( 3 ) projective 
components. Their description of attitudes that engage the "social" 
process is similar to what we have described as system III functioning. 
System III relatedness is also similar to what Witkin and his colleagues 
(1954) described as "field dependent." In these studies, field depend- 
ence represented the utilization of external anchors for behavior. How- 
ever, it would appear that both system I and system III forms of re- 
latedness are included in Witkin's concept. In discussing their results 
on the Thematic Apperception Test, Witkin et al. noted two orien- 
tations within the field dependent group that appear to parallel our 
distinction between systems I and III. 

In many stories by [high-index] subjects, . . . the principal character 
was crushed by circumstances; there was nothing that he could do about 
them [system I]. In other stories, the principal character abrogated his own 
needs in order to receive protection from others [system III] (Witkin et al, 
1954, p. 259). 

Although systems I and III are similar at a high level of generality, 
because both represent external anchors for behavior, it is important 
for future research to distinguish between them. As we indicate in 
Chapters 7 and 8 this distinction is not new in the personality and social 
field. Katz et al. (1954) and McClintock (1958) differentiate between 
ego-defensiveness and other-directedness. Ego-defensive attitudes to- 
ward minority groups are likely to be maintained because they provide 
an avenue for the indirect expression of hostility. In our terms this rep- 
resents system I concepts, reflecting the more direct expression of 
dominance and control toward a weaker, less authoritative stimulus. 
The other-directed organization is described as a personality ". . . weak 
in inner authority, i.e., super-ego. ... In order to ensure acceptance by 
the relevant group or groups, he acts upon his perceived expectations 



188 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

as to what they demand of him. He characteristically holds those at- 
titudes which he feels that others significant to him maintain" (McClin- 
tock, 1958, p. 480). This description is not only similar to system III 
but also to Riesman's description of other-directedness (1950) and to 
social accommodation as used by Schroder and Hunt ( 1959 ) . 

The distinction between what we refer to as stage I and stage III 
systems of relatedness has often been made on the basis of the strength 
of the "superego" or "conscience." However, Peck ( 1958 ) in studying 
the effects of child-training practices on adolescent personality makes 
a similar distinction in terms of different kinds of "superego." These 
are: ". . . (a) a strong rigid compartmentalized superego created by 
sternly autocratic rearing; and ( b ) a strong superego which was closely 
knit with ego functions, open to rational appraisal, and created by 
consistent, democratic, nonsevere rearing in a trustful, approving fam- 
ily" (Peck, 1958, p. 350). The former is related to the training and 
consequences that are involved in system I, and the latter is closely 
related to the training and consequences involved in system III function- 
ing. Although these distinctions are limited by the vagueness of such 
concepts as superego, they indicate the importance of a general schema 
for handling more specific forms of subject-object relatedness. Fromm 
( 1941 ) has also drawn a similar distinction between authoritarianism 
( system I ) and conformity ( system III ) . 

Indirect-Direct Variation 
within System 111 

The more protective the interdependent training, the more indirect 
and passive is the expression within system III. High degrees of pro- 
tection are characterized by such factors as excessive instrumental aid, 
excessive source anticipation of potential danger, less reward for in- 
dependent instrumental behavior, and protection from entering new 
situations. In contrast, a more direct orientation is produced by rewards 
for behavior that gains the support and acceptance of the source and 
that "earns" the support of other groups in new situations through 
socially accommodating behavior. 

Ausubel (1952) presents a description of overprotective child- 
training practices that would exemplify the indirect pole. 

The parent makes an effort to provide for his child an environment which 
is free of any type of hurt, disappointment, frustration or painful contact 
with the harsher realities of life. This goal is achieved by isolating him from 
all experiences which could possibly result in such consequences, preventing 
contact with persons who do not share his benevolent attitude to the same 
degree, providing a host of precautions and protective devices (including 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 189 

an excessive amount of personal contact and supervision), and refusing to 
allow him to plan or do things for himself for fear that injury or failure might 
result. Calculated risks that most parents regard as necessary for normal 
development are compulsively avoided (Ausubel, 1952, p. 210). 

Compared to direct expression, indirect expression of system III 
functioning is less well articulated and more immature. It is associated 
with more immature means of gaining attention and is characterized 
by increased fantasy productions with themes of independence, rec- 
ognition, and acceptance. The direct orientation involves active antic- 
ipation of the standards of others. It thereby permits the manipulation 
of one's behavior so as to maximize rewards through the maintenance 
of positive relationships. Again in contrast, the more passive expression 
is characterized by helpless, attention-gaining behavior, or the utili- 
zation of the "I can't" reaction as a means of avoiding rejection and de- 
manding protection and support ( Levy, 1943 ) . 

Level II Transitional Arrestation 

Accelerated autonomous (permissive) training has been proposed 
as one of the major antecedent conditions leading to level II tran- 
sitional concepts. Systems on this dimension are characterized by a 
conflict between oppositional independence versus the need to be cared 
for and supported. However, the expression of these system II and 
system III tendencies are modified in terms of the conflicting forces as 
illustrated in Table 16. 

Many studies have been carried out on the developmental conse- 
quences of training methods variously described as permissive (Sy- 
monds, 1939), overprotective (Levy, 1943), or underdominative and 
permissive training (Ausubel, 1952; Baldwin, 1955). For example, Sy- 
monds (1939) describes permissive parents as: 

. . . those who permit the child a great deal of freedom, allow themselves 
to be dominated by the child and accede to the child's demands and wishes, 
who indulge the child and cannot refuse his requests or, on the other hand, 
who desert him or neglect the child, who do not give him proper training 
and leave him too much to his own resources (Symonds, 1939, p. 105, 108) . 

As Mussen and Conger (1956) indicate, this description covers a 
wide variety of training, or in present terms, from unreliable unilateral 
to protective interdependent training. The developmental consequences 
of such training are equally varied. According to Symonds, children so 
trained were rated more disobedient, careless, irresponsible, rebellious 
to authority, antagonistic, independent, but self-confident and spon- 
taneous in forming friendships outside the family. These character- 



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STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 191 

istics extend from counterpersonal or stage II relatedness to stage III 
relatedness, as we would expect on the basis of the range of antecedent 
training conditions. The developmental characteristics presented by 
Levy (1943) and Baldwin ( 1955) are generally similar to those reported 
by Symonds. 

Development within level II transitional systems leads to the emer- 
gence of conflict between assertiveness and the maintenance of inter- 
personal relationships. Training conditions antecedent to level II tran- 
sitional conflict are characterized by a lack of emphasis on status differ- 
ence betwen the subject and the source and by a relative absence of 
limits or obstacles, including the experience of failure. Furthermore, the 
source provides intrinsic but indiscriminate positive evaluation. The 
subject learns to be independent, self-directed, and assertive in the 
training environment but does not learn to cope with failure or to relate 
to others on the basis of either absolute criteria, mutuality, or infor- 
mational standards. The resulting tendency is to react in terms of 
system II orientation tempered by the effects of intrinsic evaluations. 
We refer to this reaction pattern as "assertiveness." However, outside 
the training situation such assertiveness, often characterized by bully- 
ing and aggressiveness, meets with resistance (Ausubel, 1952; Levy, 
1943). Development does not provide a foundation for positive inde- 
pendence or interdependence, but it does lead to the emergence of 
independent (system II) tendencies. Intrinsic evaluation by the source 
sharply decreases counterdependent tendencies and increases the 
expectation of acceptance due to the privileged nature of the training. 

When assertive behavior is unsuccessful (and this is particularly 
likely to occur outside the home), the conflicting nature of subject- 
object linkages ( between pole C and pole D differentiations ) is clearly 
apparent. As Ausubel ( 1952 ) remarks : 

The great paradox accounting for maturational failure in under-dominated 
children is a super-abundance of the self-assertive aspects of volitional 
independence combined with a virtual absence of the personality traits that 
make implementation of this independence possible (Ausubel, 1952, p. 220). 

The more indifferent the source and the more indiscriminate the 
rewards in permissive training, the more we would expect development 
to result in a greater centrality of pole C concepts. In a similar way, 
the more protective the permissive training the greater is the centrality 
of pole D( Table 16). 

As stage H-related systems become more central, the occurrence of 
persistence following failure decreases. Grosslight and Child (1947) 
demonstrated that training in which success followed a series of fail- 
ures produces increased persistence. Permissive training characterized 



192 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

by undifferentiated rewards should lead to low persistence, which would 
particularly characterize level II (C > D) systems. When the in- 
evitable "meeting of failure" outside the training situation occurs, 
there emerge tendencies to avoid failure and at the same time reduce 
dependency pressures. These tendencies include a lack of persistence 
(Schroder and Hunt, 1957), the denial or repression of failure experi- 
ences (Rosenzweig and Sarason, 1942), role diffuseness, bullying and 
assertive behavior (Cameron, 1947; Levy, 1943), and extroversion 
(Eysenck, 1948, 1953). 

These level II (C > D) system tendencies represent modified ex- 
pressions of pole C, or system II functioning, since they tend to avoid 
failure and dependency. As Ausubel (1952) observe? 

When forced to set an aspirational level in an area outside the home — 
where he enjoys no special privilege and consideration — he tends never- 
theless to transfer to expectations derived from the parent-child relationship 
despite their unreality. And instead of appropriately modifying these as- 
pirations in line with recent experience — as would be natural for an indi- 
vidual with a more typical history of volitional development — he finds the 
frustration intolerable and abandons the goal completely (Ausubel, 1952, 
p. 222). 

A similar orientation develops in the social context. Conflicts between 
pole C and pole D lead to maximum role diffuseness in the absence of 
absolute or informational standards. Ausubel (1952) states that, ". . . it 
becomes practically impossible for the underdominated child to ab- 
stract any consistent general rule that would indicate when a given 
ethical precept applies to his own conduct" (p. 225). This level of 
functioning represents the most concrete form of conditional or mutual 
relatedness. Since it is the first step beyond oppositional functioning, 
it also represents the most primitive form of interdependent related- 
ness. System III relatedness involves differentiated accommodating 
reactions calculated to influence the source toward adopting a more 
positive accepting and supporting attitude toward the subject. In 
contrast level II (C > D) transitional relatedness involves "all or 
none" accommodating reactions. Role development has been so diffuse 
and approval so undifferentiated that failure or stress comes to be re- 
solved by the adoption of an alternate diffuse role that functions to 
avoid failure and maintain an "apparent" assertiveness. Development 
within this transitional level may occasionally lead to extreme compart- 
mentalization so that the subject utilizes almost unrelated roles accord- 
ing to the situation he is in ( cf . the case of Joseph Kidd in White, 1956 ) . 

As system II tendencies (stage II-related systems) become more 
overt and dominant, the characteristic reaction to stress is repressive. 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 193 

Therefore we would expect measures of concern about achievement 
(McClelland et al., 1953) and perseverance for achievement or 
achievement striving (Caron and Wallach, 1959) to relate negatively 
to the denial of inadequacies, that is, repression after failure. This ex- 
pectation is congruent with the findings of Atkinson (1953). Caron and 
Wallach report: 

We have seen that one of our personality factors — Perseverance for 
Achievement — bears a strong relationship to defensive orientations, Lows 
[low achievers] reacting to stress repressively and Highs [high achievers] 
reacting vigilantly [p. 242]. . . . persons low in achievement concern and 
in achievement striving tend to repress the memory of failure experiences. 
. . . (Caron and Wallach, 1959, p. 243). 

As system III concepts become more central (level II [D > C] 
systems), the assertiveness and the avoidance of failure take on dif- 
ferent characteristics. These represent highly indirect forms of system 
III functioning, due to the simultaneous pressures of compartmentalized 
and conflicting pole C and pole D tendencies (Table 16). The result- 
ing avoidance and overdriven tendencies, however indirect, are ex- 
pected to take on characteristics of pole D relatedness, such as in- 
creasing social acceptability and an increasing tendency to seek support. 
Owing to the weaker, conflicting, pole C tendencies, we propose that 
level II ( D > C ) systems are characterized by overdriven and assertive 
achievement serving the purpose of insuring care and support ( indirect 
pole D expression ) and at the same time reducing reliance on relation- 
ships (indirect pole C expression). Overdriven assertive achievement 
would be less rigid and compulsive than achievement based on level I 
(A > B) systems, and characterized by the indirect seeking of care 
and protection rather than the avoidance of dependency on external 
control. The "protection seeking" is expressed very indirectly in these 
systems, as assertiveness, which appears to be the opposite of such 
needs. 

Achievement and interest based on level II (D > C) transitional 
systems would be more socially oriented. Since the person functioning 
at this transitional level has not integrated negative independence and 
conditional dependence, his perception of relationships and the eval- 
uation of interaction will differ from such perceptions based on pro- 
gressive stage III and IV functioning. In level II ( D > C ) transitional 
systems, mutuality is not well developed, and relationships are viewed 
more in terms of a market analogy in which dependency and care are 
"purchased." 

In summary, we may note that in stage II systems self-esteem is 
defensively maintained by non-commitment, source deprecation, and 



194 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

the avoidance of dependency in any form. As we move toward stage III 
systems of relatedness and conflict between pole C and pole D, there 
is an increasing tendency to avoid failure without the accompanying 
counterpersonal or system II tendencies. This dimension runs from the 
avoidance of dependency and source deprecation (system II orien- 
tations ) through bullying and assertive behavior, denial, forgetting, and 
the avoidance of failure (level II [C > D] transitional systems ) through 
overdriven assertive achievement, in order to insure protection and care 
(level II [D > C] transitional systems) to the avoidance of failure by 
seeking support from others (system III). 

In Chapter 9, various forms of hysteria are considered in the frame- 
work of level II transitional systems. We also discuss the relationship 
between level II transitional functioning and what has been described 
as "extraversion" (Eysenck, 1948). 

Stage IV Conceptual Systems 

Stage IV systems involve the integration of the major forms of sub- 
ject-object relatedness so that behavior is no longer primarily deter- 
mined by either an external criterion, by opposition, or by some type 
of dependent relationship. The criterion for behavior is maximally ab- 
stract, emerging as informational standards. Behavior is neither de- 
pendent on external rules or other people, nor counterdependent upon 
these anchors — it is maximally interdependent. Learning to anticipate 
the consequences of behavior is not equivalent to learning the role of 
the source, as in system I development, but rather involves the develop- 
ment of informational standards through experiencing the consequences 
of one's own actions. 

The subject learns to generate alternative systems of ordering of the 
same stimuli. Development within this system involves ( 1 ) reliance on 
independent exploratory behavior, (2) a more veridical perception of 
other persons' standards, and (3) informational standards that are 
interdependent on, and open to, a variety of influences. 

Developing Orientations in System IV 

One of the most fundamental characteristics of stage IV systems is 
what we refer to as "abstract closedness." The more abstract levels of 
functioning are characterized by the ability to hold strong beliefs 
and to be ego-involved, while remaining open to alternate evaluations 
and differentiations, that is, to hold strong beliefs but to be unprejudiced. 
Such functioning permits ego-involvement without the usual accom- 
panying disadvantages of bias, subjectivity, and distortion. At this ab- 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 195 

stract level of functioning, presumably, only neurological factors limit 
effective intellectual functioning. 

Under informational imposition the subject learns to depend on his 
own exploratory behavior as a means of solving problems or over- 
coming barriers. The training frees him from reliance on other people 
or absolute criteria as a means of relating. In summarizing some of the 
major consequences of logical training in which the child is given 
responsibility, Baldwin (1955) lists such characteristics as self-reli- 
ance, cooperation, responsibility, and security. Peck (1958) reported 
that autonomy was associated with parent-training practices such as 
stability, warmth, mutual trust, and approval between the parent and 
the child. It has also been shown that intrinsically valued children, 
who are task-oriented and have little need for ego aggrandizement, ex- 
hibit more emotional control and make fewer demands on adults 
than children experiencing other parental practices (Gruber, 1954). 
According to our view, informational imposition involves intrinsic 
evaluation as well as a task or information orientation. 

Development in system IV is characterized by the absence of a 
positive or negative dependence on other people. Standards are not 
likely to be anchored in other people's beliefs, although the system is 
not closed to the consideration of such beliefs. The subject learns to 
react to other people's behavior independently of his own; he is more 
able to view others' behavior in terms of their own past experience, as 
he views his own, and is able to develop greater insight into the motives 
behind the behavior of other people. The veridicality of this view of 
others depends no doubt on other factors, including the range of his 
own experiences and the level of intelligence, but in general we would 
expect this development to be associated with greater veridicality in 
person perception. The ability to view others' behavior in terms of their 
own past experience, not only increases the veridicality of "as if" be- 
havior or putting oneself into another's frame of reference, but also 
enhances the development of veridical informational standards as 
anchors for future experience. 

This attitude or form of relatedness toward other people extends to 
other objects, including rules. In stage IV systems, development involves 
neither a positive nor a negative dependence on rules, on absolute 
solutions or answers that are externally given. In system IV, rules are 
understood in terms of their genesis and function, not simply on the 
basis of their personal effect on the subject. In this more abstract form 
of relatedness, rules are accepted on the basis of their general function 
rather than being obeyed in the concrete sense. However, if a change in 
the situation makes the rule functionally less effective, the person func- 



196 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

tioning in terms of system IV may attempt to change the rule, just as 
he might change his solution in a problem-solving situation. The primary 
concern is upon the development of informational standards continu- 
ously attuned to the environment. We expect this functioning to be 
associated with a strong informational orientation regardless of the 
salience of other situational components, for example, source, power, 
attractiveness, and so forth. 

This personality organization is similar to what has been described as 
inner-directedness (Riesman, 1950), "freedom to" (Fromm, 1941), ob- 
ject appraisal (Smith et al., 1956), and independent orientation (Wit- 
kin et al., 1954). The term "independence" as used in attitude-change 
studies and many clinical descriptions often covers what we have refer- 
red to as both negative independence or oppositional and positive inde- 
pendence or autonomy. Witkin suggests that his "independents" (sub- 
jects whose judgments about "uprightness" were based on the position 
of their own body rather than on the characteristics of the field ) include 
two different classes of personality organization, one being described 
more in system II terms and the other more in system IV terms. We 
distinguish between stage II and stage IV functioning and refer to stage 
IV functioning as interdependent rather than as independent. 

Indirect-Direct Variation 
within System IV 

As indicated earlier in this chapter, the more informational or inter- 
dependent the training, the less is the variation in expressive differ- 
ences within a system. (We obviously do not imply for system IV a 
narrow, rigid reliance on a few types of behavior.) The more that 
training involves a dependent or independent situation (control, per- 
missiveness, protection, neglect, and so forth, as contrasted to a highly 
interdependent situation, the more the subject is exposed to two behav- 
ioral orientations, that of the source and that of the subject's role, which 
is rewarded by the source. When this difference is large, as in stage I 
systems, the degree of system-specific inhibition determines the ex- 
pressive outcome. However, as training becomes more interdependent 
and informational, the dichotomy between the role of the source and 
the role of the subject, which is rewarded by the source, decreases so 
that system IV functioning is expected to be much less subject to con- 
flicting expressive modes. 

However, despite this integration of expression, we would expect 
relative differences along the indirect-direct dimension in stage IV 
functioning. Presumably, environmental poverty, which restricted the 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 197 

degree to which the consequences of informational standards were 
tested, will tend to induce less environmental manipulation in behavior 
and more indirect forms of expression. 

Level III Transitional Arrestation 

According to our view, level III arrestation results from accelerated 
interdependent training. It will be recalled that accelerated unilateral 
training involves a lack of differentiation between the criteria of be- 
havior and the expectations of the source; it also involves an equivalence 
between anticipating the consequences of experience and learning the 
role of the source. In contrast, accelerated interdependent training 
does not represent a conflict between dependency on versus opposition 
to absolute or external control. There is instead a conflict between 
"pleasing" others, enlisting their mutual support (regardless of the 
criterion) versus functioning autonomously on the basis of informational 
standards (not in opposition to other people's standards). Table IT 
indicates the range of level III transitional systems. 

These transitional svstems are characterized bv a lack of integration 
between mutuality- (pole E) and autonomy (pole F) so that judgment 
or functioning based on one semicompartmentalized system interferes 
or conflicts with the other. As a result of accelerated interdependent 
training, the subject learns to rely on his own informational standards 
in unstructured situations but is imsure of the adequacy of these stan- 
dards in coping with such situations. Since the subject is capable of 
attributing causal responsibility to himself, he is likely to experience 
more severe feelings of inadequacy following autonomous decisions. 

As was true for the direct-indirect dimension in more abstract 
nodal systems, the expressive differences between systems along the 
level III transitional dimension are smaller than in the more concrete 
transitional systems. At one extreme of the dimension are systems in- 
volving differentiation based more exclusively on mutuality and relation- 
ships (system III). Next follow conflicting systems in which sociallv 
accommodating reactions ( pole E ) are modified ( bv pole F tendencies ) 
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STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 199 

are stage IV systems in which mutuality and autonomy are integrated 
so that one does not interfere with the other. 

At the developmental level we are unaware of any studies sufficiently 
specific either in terms of antecedents or consequents to check these 
assumptions. However, in Chapter 9 we report some general support 
for these expectations in the area of psvchopathology. 

General Considerations 

Generic Similarities between Conceptual Systems 

As indicated in Chapter 4, developmental stages can be viewed in 
terms of two phases (Bennis and Shepard, 1956) : the first phase includ- 
ing stages I and II and the second phase including stages III and IV. 
One implication of this "recapitulation" is that arrestation at stages I and 
III and stages II and IV have generic similarities. Differences do exist 
in the abstractness of subject-object relatedness in system I and system 
III (particularly in respect to external and internal causation), but 
these systems are generically similar in that, for both, judgments and 
behavior are anchored to external objects, such as rules, power, and 
relationships. In a non-systemic sense the two forms of relatedness com- 
bine to describe behavior that, from an operational viewpoint, is more 
"dependent." If behavior is externally anchored, it should be subject to 
more violent swings and oscillations than behavior that is internally 
anchored; it is subject to greater disturbance partly as a result of 
ambiguity in the external world. Evidence is presented later to indicate 
that in conformity studies (Chapter 7) and reactions to stress (Chapter 
9) greater response variation occurs as a result of environmental am- 
biguity when systems I and III are engaged. In these svstems small 
changes in the external situation produce large changes in response 
varying, for example, from conformitv to compulsive maintenance of 
a standard (Hoffman, 1957). 

Generic Similarities between Transitional Systems 

At a very general level, the three transitional systems may be de- 
scribed as "conflict about dependence" or "conflict about independence," 
since progression proceeds through the emergence of more abstract 
forms of dependence following independence at a more concrete or 
diffuse level. Three levels of conflict result: (1) unilateral dependence 
on external control versus opposition to external control, ( 2 ) avoidance 
of dependence versus the maintenance of relationships, and (3) mu- 
tuality versus autonomy. Each could be referred to as conflict between 



200 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

dependence and independence. However, we have stressed the im- 
portance of dimensionalizing within these general descriptive terms and 
have emphasized that the context of the generic dependence-independ- 
ence conflict differs at each level. 

Conceptual Systems and Achievement 

As we have suggested earlier in this chapter, the relationship between 
level of abstractness and achievement is quite complex. These relation- 
ships are little understood but are, perhaps, of crucial importance for 
selecting the "criterion" for ' achievement or intelligence tests, for 
defining "areas" of achievement, and for selection and guidance pur- 
poses. The crucial problem in test construction is obviously the criteria 
against which tests are validated. The criteria that test constructors 
use therefore partially determines, among other things, the kind of 
education a child will receive, the kind of occupation he will work in, 
or at a more general level the distribution and utilization of human 
resources. We believe this to be one of the most important areas of 
psychological research because the present emphasis of testing pro- 
grams is almost exclusively on the content of experience, ignoring the 
nature or abstractness of relatedness. In this sense, test construction 
has not advanced appreciably since Binet, although there has been 
considerable advance in the sophistication of the statistical techniques 
used to analyze the data gathered on the basis of such tests. 

When achievement is measured against externally given criteria, 
system I relatedness should be likely to lead to high levels of achieve- 
ment. The following educational practices should, however, lead to 
arrestation of academic development at stage I: (1) presenting mate- 
rials and facts in an absolute way; ( 2 ) requiring that the subject learn 
what is correct or desired by the source; and ( 3 ) requiring the absolute 
reproduction of what the source says is correct in an examination (if 
a high level of "achievement" is desired ) . Furthermore, if this form of 
"achievement" becomes a criterion against which tests are validated for 
selection purposes, the students who will enter higher education are 
likely to be functioning at a more concrete level. One symptom of this 
trend may be the apparently increasing tendency for college students 
to prefer structure over complexity, facts over arguments, methods over 
ideas, and absolute and externally defined answers over relative or 
abstract knowledge. 

System II relatedness should be associated with the lowest form of 
"achievement" when achievement is measured against externally given 
or absolute criteria. However, this form of relatedness can produce new 
ideas in science and other fields of activity if the subject can carry on 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 201 

his work independently. Such ideas may be more discontinuous with 
the current mainstream of social traditions and more rebellious in 
social fields. 

We do not expect system IV functioning to be associated with 
higher achievement (defined in the above sense) for similar reasons. It 
is highly probable that training emphasizing informational interdepend- 
ence would lead to slightly lower "achievement" levels compared to 
training emphasizing unilateral techniques. The person who has devel- 
oped more abstract concepts may use broader and different achieve- 
ment criteria than those used or applied by a particular source and 
may therefore be "graded down." System IV functioning involves the 
integration of alternate interpretations and ideas and greater crea- 
tivity. Such training should therefore result in informational resources 
capable of handling a broader range of problems, particularly new 
problems. We believe this result should be a basic purpose of education 
(cf. Chapter 10). 

As described in this chapter, we expect level I (A > B) transitional 
systems to be associated with overdriven concretistic achievement, 
motivated by a fear of dependency, and level II ( D > C ) transitional 
systems to be associated with overdriven assertive achievement, mo- 
tivated by a need to be cared for and supported. 

Affective Components of Conceptual Systems 

Although the various affective states such as shame and anger prob- 
ably have their bases in biological characteristics of the organism, we 
propose that systems of relatedness are associated with particular 
emotional experiences, much as McDougall (1908) indicated in his 
famous definition of instinct. We present the broad emotional qualities 
that we believe to accompany threat to each system of relatedness; how- 
ever, since we cannot provide independent operations for the various 
emotions, we recognize that such relationships are purely hypothetical 
at this time. Since the systems are conceptualized in terms of the differ- 
ing conditions that produce positive or negative affect, it seems plau- 
sible that the quality of this affective experience may differ between the 
systems as well. 

Specifically we contend that the experience of guilt or self-casti- 
gation is associated with system I. Guilt represents self-punishment for 
the transgression of interiorized rules over which the subject has no 
control. According to Levin and Baldwin (1959) "Guilt ... is a 
kind of internalized social control mechanism in which the wrong be- 
havior is avoided for its own sake . . ." (p. 171). 

We suggest that stage II systems are associated with the emotional 



202 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

expression of aggression when independence is threatened, whereas 
stage III systems experience negative affect primarily as shame follow- 
ing a weakening of relationship ties. Shame represents a violation of 
the trusting relationship between subject and source. In this sense shame 
differs from guilt in that it is not one's behavior that is intrinsically 
"bad" in an absolute sense; it is that the subject feels he has "let another 
person down" and is therefore worthless because his own behavior has 
failed to maintain the support and continuing acceptance of the source. 
The experience of shame is closely associated with sensitization to 
relationships. Benedict (1946) and Leighton and Kluckhohn (1947) 
propose both guilt and shame as external sanctions in mediating 
compliance or conformity to cultural standards and contend that cul- 
tures can be differentiated in terms of their sensitivity to guilt and 
shame. Levin and Baldwin ( 1959 ) characterize shame as "the anticipa- 
tion of revelation of unfavorable attributes" (p. 150). 

We would associate the emotional experience of self-devaluation 
with threat to stage IV functioning. Since such relatedness is inter- 
dependent of absolute rules, and therefore not counterdependent, we 
would expect a relative absence of guilt, shame, and aggression in 
system IV. Self-devaluation refers to the experience of failure defined 
in terms of the inadequacy of informational standards to cope with the 
consequences of experience. It refers to the tendency to tolerate as 
opposed to ward off anxiety. The consequences of self-devaluation 
include an immediate shifting to new alternative conceptual schemata 
that are goal-directed and a continuing adoption of other alternatives 
if failure continues. Experimental evidence suggests that subjects 
selected on the basis of a predisposition to engage system IV concepts 
do lower their self-evaluation more, following persistent failure 
(Schroder and Hunt, 1957). As a generalization we would expect a 
positive correlation between the experience of self-devaluation and the 
openness of concepts to change under changing environmental con- 
ditions. 

Dimensions of Personality 

Most work in the area of dimensions of personality has been based 
on factorial studies. The dimensions that emerge, under these con- 
ditions, are necessarily limited by the test items used. Nevertheless, 
these studies consistently support the earlier intuitive observations of 
Jung (1923) in demonstrating the existence of a general dimension 
referred to as "extroversion-introversion" (Eysenck, 1953). 

The "extrovert" pole (variously described by such traits as carefree, 
insensitive, free from inhibitions, ascendant, changeable, non-persistent) 



STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS: DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY 203 

appears to approximate what we have referred to as stage II related 
systems (see Table 14). The "introvert" pole (variously described by 
traits such as sensitive, personal, intellectual, deep, persistent, ob- 
sessional, submissive) appears to include the remainder of our dimen- 
sions combining stage I, III, and IV systems. Although it is plausible 
that behavior ratings of system I functioning may show higher cor- 
relations with system III than system II functioning ( as we have indi- 
cated above), test items can be selected to differentiate between these 
systems ( see Chapters 7 and 8 ) . 

Concluding Comments 

In the past three chapters we have focused upon the central question 
of "What develops?" All development depends upon the establishment 
of systems of conceptual linkages. The object of the linkages refers to 
the content or the "what" of learning, the relatedness or schema refers 
to the nature or structure of the associations formed, regardless of the 
content. We have outlined the various systems of functioning, the 
conditions underlying their development, progressive stages in the 
development of more abstract systems, and development within the 
conceptual limits of each system following the arrestation of progres- 
sive development. The nature of conceptual systems has been dimen- 
sionalized at the most generic level, along a concrete-abstract dimension. 
More specific dimensions were utilized in deriving the dimensions of 
training and functioning. The next chapter is concerned in more detail 
with how these systems function. 



Functioning of 
Conceptual System 



How do conceptual systems operate? In the present chapter we pur- 
sue this question by considering the nature of system-specific func- 
tioning — sensitization, interpretation, and resolution — in a contem- 
poraneous setting. The problem is to derive the role of specific systems 
in determining what elements of the present situation are most relevant, 
and what interpretive and behavioral reactions will occur. 

As we noted earlier, any system may be viewed as both a cause and 
an effect. In the present chapter we consider systems as the immediate 
antecedents of cognitive and behavioral outcomes. It should be em- 
phasized that to consider systems as determinants is simply a device 
for describing the nature of system functioning, and is not intended to 
imply that systems are static, inflexible determinants. Every system 
presumably changes to some degree, as a result of each new experience. 
But this change occurring as a result of feedback from each experience 
is a matter of degree, and, for purposes of the present chapter, we 
intentionally disregard this change in order to convey the flavor of 
system functioning. 

A central assumption in the present viewpoint is that in order to 
understand a person's behavior in a situation we need to know what 
conceptual system is operating. The difference in how various people 
react in the same situation reflects the operation of different conceptual 
systems. In a similar way, intraindividual difference or similarity in 
reaction to different situations is also viewed in terms of the under- 
lying functioning of conceptual systems. Since systems exert such a 
crucial role in determining reactions, an intensive consideration of the 
nature of this role seems appropriate. 

The functioning of conceptual systems determines what aspects of 
a situation will be relevant and what conditions will produce confir- 
mation and refutation, as well as what reactions will occur as a result 
of such confirmation or refutation. As we noted in Chapter 3, these 
functioning characteristics are applicable to systems at every level of 

204 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 205 

generality — from the total self-system to the most specific concept. 
However, in a particular case, one must always specify what system 
is being considered in order to derive the particular pattern of system- 
specific functioning. Therefore, in the interest of simplicity we only deal 
here with four generic classes of systems although assuming that the 
present treatment will apply to any system. 

Systems To Be Considered 

Systems may be viewed as varying along a number of dimensions, as 
we noted in Chapter 6: degree of abstractness, degree of arrestation 
(closedness), nature of transitional conflict, and directness of expres- 
sion. If systems are viewed in terms of these interrelated dimensions, 
a large variety of systems may be derived, a specification that may be 
very valuable for certain purposes. However, the present analysis deals 
with systems at a more generic level in order that the functioning char- 
acteristics may be presented in a relatively uncomplicated fashion. The 
important point is the interrelatedness of structure and function in 
any system. If we know the structure, we can determine the function. 
Thus, the present method of deriving functioning characteristics is 
applicable to any one of the more specific systems in Table 13 on p. 167. 

Since the present interest lies in contemporaneous functioning, we 
deal with four generic classes of systems that are similar expressively. 
Thus, we combine those systems referred to earlier as direct and in- 
direct nodal stage I systems as well as the transitional level I (A > B) 
system under the single heading of system I, primarily on the basis of 
their expressive similarity. For purposes of the present chapter we are 
dealing with arrested systems, or systems that are at least partially 
closed. 

In order to develop principles of system-specific functioning for each 
of the systems we may begin by reviewing the dimensional limits of 
each system and by asking what is central in each system. Table 18 
indicates the dimension by specifying the positive pole (that is, open- 
ness ) and the negative pole ( closedness ) for each system. 

These system-specific dimensions serve as the initial point of de- 
parture for deriving the characteristics of system-specific functioning. 
However, in order to accomplish such a derivation it will be helpful to 
review those motivational principles described in Chapter 3 upon 
which this derivation will rest. 



206 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

TABLE 18 

Structure of Generic Systems 

Positive Pole, Negative Pole, 

^ System Open To System Closed To 

I Agreement with generalized Violation of generalized external 

external standards standards, including ambiguous 

situation 

II Freedom from external con- Imposition of control; dependence 

trol upon others 

III Mutuality; dependence upon Non-mutualitv; rejection; aloneness 
others 

IV Expression of autonomy and Restriction of multiple alternatives 
or multiple alternatives 

Resume of Relevant Motivational Principles 

For each of the four systems we propose to derive the areas of 
sensitization, the conditions producing confirmation and refutation, 
interpretive maneuvers when confronted by potential refutation, and 
reactions to confirmation and refutation. Therefore, the principles, 
italicized below, are presented in relation to the particular aspect of 
system functioning to which they are most relevant. 

Sensitization 

The structure of a system determines how reality will be experienced, 
what will be attended to, and what will be ignored. This principle sets 
forth the basic system characteristic of openness-closedness, or sen- 
sitization. One of the manifestations of openness is a lowered threshold 
or heightened alertness to system-relevant events. By system-relevant 
events we mean simply events occurring along the dimension bracketed 
by the positive and negative poles in Table 18. These positive and neg- 
ative points represent the extremes on a dimension that have been 
differentiated in the past and have now become central. Since lowered 
threshold to certain events varies between systems, different individuals 
confronted by the same complex environmental situation will react 
differently to various situational elements as determined by the salience 
of the element to the system of functioning in that individual. 

Refutation and Confirmation 

Events evaluated as disparate from this central dimension are ex- 
perienced as refuting whereas events evaluated as congruent with the 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 207 

central dimension are experienced as confirming. Refutation occurs 
therefore when an event is experienced at the negative pole. As de- 
scribed earlier, the negative pole of a particular system is represented by 
pressure toward functioning at the next higher stage as well as toward 
functioning at the next lower stage from which the system has pro- 
gressed. Therefore, in relatively closed systems, the negative pole is 
identified with avoidance. In similar terms, confirmation involves agree- 
ment with the positive pole; more specificallv, confirmation occurs in 
relation to system-specific directional striving and the perception of 
goal facilitation. Given knowledge of the system structure (Table 18) 
and of the event experienced, we are in a position to predict the likeli- 
hood of confirmation or refutation. The degree of refutation or potential 
refutation is directly determined by the disparity between the event and 
the structure of the system. Therefore, refutation or potential refutation 
may result from either strongly negative events or highly closed svstems. 

Interpretive Maneuvers 

Systems function to minimize refutation (and thus enhance positive 
affect) by interpretive maneuvers directed at events of potential ref- 
utation. System-specific events of potential refutation are indicated 
by the negative pole in Table 18. If the potentiallv refuting event can 
be transformed through some cognitive maneuver, the occurrence of 
negative affect and blocking of directional striving may be success- 
fully avoided. Two general maneuvers are available: (1) neutralizing 
the potentially negative event (avoidance) and (2) bolstering the 
system of organization (overcompensation). Bolstering minimizes po- 
tential refutation in an indirect fashion through reaffirming the posi- 
tive elements of the system, while neutralizing achieves the same aim 
through a more direct restructuring of the potentiallv refuting event. 
Because the nature of relatedness determining the experience of po- 
tential confirmation or refutation varies between systems, the inter- 
pretive maneuvers will also vary between systems. 

Behavioral Expression 

Systems also function to minimize refutation by responses aimed 
toward eliminating or reducing the experience of negative affect 
associated with refuting events and to maximize experience of positive 
affect associated with confirming events. Behavioral expressions, like 
interpretive maneuvers, have the aim of minimizing refutation. Behav- 
ioral expressions, however, are more likely to occur later in a sequence 
than interpretive maneuvers and, as the name implies, to involve a 
behavioral, rather than a cognitive, response. Although the distinction 
may at times be difficult to maintain, it is essentially similar to Heider's 



208 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

distinction between the resolutions of changing sentiment relations 
and changing unit relations, respectively (Heider, 1958). In its aim 
to reduce experienced incongruence, behavioral expression may take 
the form of either attempting to remove the potentially refuting event 
in some way or changing the system organization slightly so that the 
event will not be refuting. Such change of system organization may be 
similar to the reorganization that occurs when progression takes place. 
As was true for other characteristics, these behavioral expressions will 
also vary between systems. 

Other Conceptions of Interpretive 
Maneuvers and Resolutions 

Before proceeding to an application of these principles it may be 
helpful to note the relationship of the present derivations of interpretive 
maneuvers and resolutions to those of some other investigators. These 
resolutions appear to be related to what Heider ( 1958 ) calls "changes 
in unit relation," and to what Abelson ( 1959) calls "modes of resolution 
of belief dilemmas." In describing the various means by which a person 
reacts to a situation of "imbalance," Heider describes two general 
resolutions. Before considering these resolutions we may note that an 
imbalanced situation for the subject is exemplified by a situation con- 
sisting of a "positive" person (that is, someone the subject likes) per- 
forming a "negative" action ( that is, something that the subject regards 
as disagreeable). Without considering Heider's theoretical model in 
detail, it is relevant to consider the two general means by which the 
tension resulting from such imbalance may be reduced: "The situation 
can be made harmonious either by a change in the sentiment relations 
or in the unit relations" (Heider, 1958, p. 207). For present purposes 
the "change in sentiment relationship" may be considered a behavioral 
resolution, whereas the "change in unit relations" appears to be di- 
rectly relevant to interpretive maneuvers as the following quotation 
illustrates: 

Change in unit relations 

a. p [the person observing] can begin to feel that o [the liked person] is 
not really responsible for x [the undesirable action]. In this way x cannot 
be attributed to o and the unit between o and x is destroyed (Heider, 1958, 
p. 208). 

Such a change appears to be similar to what we are calling neutrali- 
zation. Also in a balance model framework, Abelson (1959) has de- 
scribed a very similar maneuver which he calls denial: 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 209 

Denial refers to a direct attack upon one or both of the cognitive ele- 
ments or the relation between them. The value felt toward the object, 
whether positive or negative, is denied, or the opposite is asserted; or the 
sign of the relation between the elements is explained away, or the opposite 
is asserted (Abelson, 1959, p. 344). 

Abelson has also described a bolstering maneuver which he defines 
as: 

. . . relating one or the other of the two cognitive objects in a balanced 
way to other valued objects . . . thereby minimizing the relative im- 
balance in the structure (Abelson, 1959, p. 345). 

In order for any of these maneuvers to occur, the person must ex- 
perience a situation that creates imbalance, or in our terms, potential 
refutation in subject-object relations. Potential refutation may be re- 
interpreted either by bolstering or by neutralization in any one of the 
four systems: however, what is reinterpreted will be specific to the 
system. 

Derivation of System-Specific Functioning 

For each of the four generic classes of systems we set forth the fol- 
lowing functioning characteristics : ( 1 ) area of sensitization, ( 2 ) con- 
ditions producing refutation and confirmation, (3) system-specific 
interpretive maneuvers (neutralization and bolstering) to refutation, 
(4) system-specific behavioral resolutions, and (5) system-specific 
reactions to confirmation. Table 18 indicates the areas of sensitization 
and defines what constitutes confirmation or refutation for each system. 
From this information we can derive what the system-specific neutral- 
izing and bolstering maneuvers will be, as well as the behavior reso- 
lutions associated with each system. For example, if we are considering 
system III, the area of sensitization is mutuality-nonmutuality or 
dependence-rejection. Therefore, to the extent that events are experi- 
enced toward the negative pole, that is, as rejecting, they will be ex- 
perienced as system-specific refutation. Conversely, events connoting 
the positive pole, or mutuality, will be experienced as confirmation. 
Faced by potential refutation, the person functioning in terms of system 
III will deal with the impending event by bolstering the positive pole 
(mutuality) or by neutralizing the negative (non-mutuality). In more 
specific terms, these maneuvers will involve reaffirming friendship ties 
in the former case and denying rejection in the latter instance. Behavior 
resolutions will involve responses aimed to restore mutuality, for ex- 
ample, seeking reassurance, becoming more dependent, and so forth. 
Before proceeding to the system-specific derivation of resolutions we 



210 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

TABLE 19 
General Nature of System-Specific Interpretive Maneuvers 

System Bolstering Neutralization 

I Reaffirmation of external stand- Denial of violation of external 

ard standard 

II Reaffirmation of negative inde- Denial of dependence upon 

pendence others 

III Reaffirmation of mutuality and Denial of rejection 
friendship 

IV Reaffirmation of interdependence Denial of relevance of standards 

shall consider the interpretive maneuvers associated with the four 
generic classes of systems, as in the following table (Table 19). 

In the following sections we use Tables 18 and 19 to derive system- 
specific maneuvers and resolutions. Along with the theoretically derived 
characteristics of system functioning we describe related experimental 
findings and related conceptual notions, as well as examples of indi- 
vidual cases. We reserve for later (Chapter 8) a discussion of how 
system functioning is activated through ( 1 ) dispositional tendencies 
in the individual and (2) situational factors in the environment. For 
present purposes, therefore, the description of system-specific func- 
tioning assumes activation of a particular system and proceeds to view 
the nature of such functioning in greater detail. We do not intend here 
to review the entire literature, weighing the evidence to note whether 
it confirms or rejects the present viewpoint. Rather, we wish simply to 
convey a fuller understanding of what we mean by system-specific 
functioning. In this connection we might mention that we see no logical 
basis for regarding evidence from highly controlled experiments as 
more important for giving direction to a theory than observations about 
an individual case (cf. Lewin, 1951, p. 83). Therefore, the reader may 
wish to judge the current view regarding the nature of system func- 
tioning by his own knowledge both of research findings and of what 
people are like as they function in interpersonal situations. 

System I Functioning 

Because of the structure noted in Table 18, system I will be sensitized 
to the dimension of agreement or disagreement with external standards. 
Therefore, refutation in system I functioning will be associated with 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 211 

events involving disagreement from external standards; confirmation 
will be associated with events involving agreement with an ex- 
ternal standard. Interpretive maneuvers therefore will involve the 
avoidance of situations violating these external standards. Such avoid- 
ance may be accomplished either by bolstering or by neutralization. If 
bolstering, the avoidance takes the form of reaffirming the nature of 
the external rules; if neutralization, the avoidance consists of denying 
the violation of external rules. Behavioral resolutions for situations of 
system I-specific refutation involve responses aimed toward restoring 
the relation between the subject and the external rules. 

System I Sensitization 

On the basis of Table 18 it follows that the operation of system I will 
be associated with sensitivity to cues concerned with external rules, 
norms, and cultural prescriptions, with a minimum of alertness to 
other variations between people. On the basis of the personality organ- 
ization underlying the authoritarian personality we assume that persons 
high on the F scale (Adorno et al., 1950) are strongly disposed toward 
system I functioning. Note that the assumed equivalence rests on struc- 
tural similarity and not upon conservative political content of the F 
scale, since in our view attitudes involving liberal content may also be 
held in a system I structure. Sensitization similar to that expected in 
system I has been observed in persons high on the F scale as may be 
noted in the following summary of studies described by Bruner and 
Taguiri (1954): 

Whereas Thibaut and Riecken (1953) report the heightened sensitivity 
of the high authoritarians to variation in the military rank (or institutionally 
derived power) of the stimulus person, Jones finds that high authoritarians 
are relatively insensitive when presented with variations in personal power 
(forcefulness) as compared with the low authoritarians. A more general 
finding on the social perception of the ethnically prejudiced is provided by 
a study of Scodel and Mussen (1953). They found that people with high 
ethnic prejudice are less able to judge other people's social attitudes and 
traits correctly than are people with low ethnic prejudice (Bruner and 
Taguiri, 1954, p. 648). 

System I functioning operates within a framework of external cau- 
sality. Put in terms of the findings above, other people are not seen as 
powerful because of themselves (closedness to personal power) but 
rather as being powerful because they occupy roles that have culturally 
attributed power. 

The system I propensity to read reality primarily in terms of cul- 
turally derived power bears a close resemblance to what David Riesman 
has called the "tradition-directed" type, as indicated in the following: 



212 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

A definition of tradition-direction. . . . The conformity of the individual 
tends to be dictated to a very large degree by power relations among the 
various age and sex groups, the clans, castes, professions, and so forth — 
relations which have endured for centuries and are modified but slightly, 
if at all, by successive generations. The culture controls behavior minutely, 
and, while the rules are not so complicated that the young cannot learn them 
during the period of intensive socialization, careful and rigid etiquette 
governs the fundamentally influential sphere of kin relationships (Riesman, 
1950, p. 11). 

Further evidence of the heightened sensitivity to institutionally de- 
rived power may be noted in a study by Roberts and Jessor ( 1958 ) . 
They found that when compared with Ss low on the F scale, high 
authoritarians were less likely to be personally hostile ( as indicated by 
written response to a modification of the Rosenzweig Picture-Frus- 
tration method) toward high status sources of frustration, but more 
personally hostile to low status sources of frustration. 

Situations Producing Refutation 
and Confirmation in System 1 

The negative pole in system I functioning is that of opposition to ex- 
ternal control or violation of the generalized standard. Therefore, ref- 
utation should occur especially in situations involving violation of 
generalized standards, or those events interpreted in this way. Thus 
refutation might be produced to a slight degree by novel situations and 
to a considerable degree by ambiguous situations. Partly because sys- 
tem I functioning is highly concrete and partly because the ambiguous 
might represents a violation of standards, ambiguity produces potential 
refutation in system I. The intolerance for ambiguity observed in au- 
thoritarian Ss is, we believe, clearly related to this expected system-spe- 
cific refutation. Certain forms of ambiguity should evoke more difficulty 
than others, with ambiguity involving cultural ground rules ranking 
high in its threat potential. Getzels and Guba (1955) have studied such 
ambiguity under the heading of role conflict, which they define as 
follows : 

The critical characteristic of a role-conflict situation for the role incumbent 
is that it is in some measure ambiguous, frustrating, and, since negative 
sanctions are attached to non-conformity, threatening (Getzels and Guba, 
1955, p. 75). 

The above definition of role conflict represents a situation very likely 
to produce refutation in system I. In line with our theoretical expecta- 
tion, these authors found that persons high in role conflict ( as indicated 
by a "susceptibility to role conflict" measure) were significantly more 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 213 

authoritarian (as measured bv the F scale) than were persons low in 
role conflict. 

Also, persons functioning in terms of system I will experience ref- 
utation if the prestigeful source who mediates the generalized standard 
is questioned. Thus, exposure of the "feet of clay" of a leader or the 
death of a leader will constitute strong refutation in system I. 

If ambiguity, role conflict, and potential opposition to control rep- 
resent refutation for system I, what situations would be expected to 
represent confirmation? Any highly structured situation in which the 
cultural prescription is clearly available with no confusing competing 
alternatives. 

Individuals functioning in terms of system I in interpersonal situ- 
ations will therefore be attracted to other persons who are very con- 
ventional and behave according to the rules while they will likely re- 
ject or avoid other persons who are unconventional, spontaneous, or 
individualistic. 

Interpretive Maneuvers Associated with System I 

In order to consider interpretations specific to system I functioning 
we must first assume that the person is confronted by a situation of 
potential refutation. Given this condition we mav then derive those 
system-specific maneuvers that should occur in an attempt to avoid or 
minimize such refutation. 

NEUTRALIZATION 

On the basis of Table 19 we note that the generic form of neutrali- 
zation in system I consists of the denial of events that might involve 
transgression of rules. We consider several varieties of such system- 
specific neutralizing maneuvers: failure to perceive, distortion, dis- 
sociation, and categorical judgments. 

Failure to perceive. In some cases system I functioning consists of a 
total "blocking out" of potentially refuting events. We would expect 
a non-susceptibility to attempts to modify attitudes under certain 
conditions. For example, Harvey and Beverly (1959) found that per- 
sons disposed toward system I (High F scale) were less likely to be 
aware of a communication that was contradictory to their own position 
than were other persons. A similar process has been reported by Cooper 
and Jahoda ( 1947 ) in their observation that prejudiced persons failed 
to "see the point" of a communication involving "Mr. Biggot," which 
was intended to modifv prejudiced attitudes. 

Failure to perceive a potentially refuting event can occur only in a 
poorlv differentiated or concrete system, and therefore should occur 



214 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

most frequently in system I. A finding by Harvey (1958) illustrates 
the failure to perceive a potentially refuting event in the form of nega- 
tive evaluations directed toward the self. He found that, following 
such negative evaluations made by particular sources, authoritarians 
not only showed less change in their postevaluation ratings of them- 
selves than non-authoritarians, but also showed less general change in 
their ratings of the source. It was as if thev were denying entirely the 
occurrence of the refuting stimulus. The system I maneuver of ignoring 
events in order to maintain the status quo is also clearly illustrated in 
a study by Janicki ( 1959 ) . He found that persons disposed toward sys- 
tem I functioning ( as defined by a situational interpretation measure ) x 
reacted to both praise and criticism in a manner aimed to maintain 
whatever status relations existed between the source and the recipient 
prior to the evaluation. The person's postevaluation rating was there- 
fore more likely to be aimed at maintaining the evaluation of one's 
self in relation to the source than was true for persons functioning in 
the other three systems. 

Distortion and dissociation. Closely related to denial are those inter- 
pretive tactics that deal with the refuting event, but recategorize it in 
less threatening terms. Two such techniques are ( 1 ) distortion, or the 
recall of the negative evaluation as being less negative, and (2) disso- 
ciation, or diluting the effect of the negative evaluation by disengaging 
the source from the communication in some way (for example, ques- 
tioning that the source actually made the evaluation). Harvey (1958) 
reported in a study that replicated and extended earlier findings ( Har- 
vey, Kelley, and Shapiro, 1957) that persons disposed toward system I 
( High F scale ) were more likely to utilize one or both of these maneu- 
vers following a negative self-evaluation than persons low on the F 
scale. These tactics are activated by the devaluation by a positive 
source, a circumstance that is potentially refuting for this system. 

Categorical judgments. The concrete, poorly differentiated structure 
of system I promotes the use of categorical, "either-or" judgments. Sup- 
port for this association comes from a study by Schroder and McCarter 
( 1959 ) who found that in making attitudinal judgments about various 
religions and political parties that the persons functioning at system I 
( according to a situational interpretation measure ) made more extreme 
judgments than did others. Such persons were more likely to be either 
very favorable or very unfavorable toward the object being judged with 
little gradation between these extreme judgments. This finding is 
similar to that reported earlier by Sherif and Hovland ( 1953 ) , who 
found that persons who held negative attitudes toward minority groups, 

1 A forced-choice instrument developed for research purposes, cf. pp. 261-262. 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 215 

as would be expected in system I, made more categorical, "black- white" 
judgments. 

BOLSTERING 

Bolstering maneuvers in system I consist of operations aimed at the 
reaffirmation of external or culturally prescribed rules and standards. 
These maneuvers may take the specific forms of reaffirmation of one's 
duty or obligation, impersonalization, or an increased valuation of 
criticized aspects. 

Reaffirmation of duty. Refutation may be dealt with in system I by 
reaffirming belief in the "system," literally speaking. Thus, Schroder and 
Hunt (1959) found that system I interpretations of criticism were more 
likely to involve statements such as "It is my duty to obey him" and "He 
has a right to do that." 

Such a transformation seems similar to what Heider has described as 
the "ought" force, as seen in the following: 

As a first approach, the content of "I (or o) ought to do x" may be said 
to be fashioned after the idea "somebody wants or commands that I (or o) 
do x." In the case of ought, however, it is not a particular somebody that 
is felt to want or command people to do x, but some suprapersonal ob- 
jective order. It may also be experienced as a supernatural being who 
personified this objective . . . (Heider, 1958, p. 219). 

Impersonalization. Another means by which bolstering may occur 
is that of impersonalization, or de-emphasizing the personal aspects by 
focusing upon one's role obligations. Merton has described a maneuver 
similar to this technique in connection with bureaucratic functioning: 

"Another feature of the bureaucratic structure, the stress on deper- 
sonalization of relationships plays its part in the bureaucrat's trained 
incapacity. The personality pattern of the bureaucrat is nucleated 
about this norm of impersonality" ( Merton, 1940, p. 565 ) . ( Italics ours. ) 
To reinterpret one's own actions or those of another as being determined 
by these externally given "ought" forces serves the dual function of 
reaffirming the absolute standard, and removing any personal intent 
that might otherwise be threatening. Heider's comments are appro- 
priate: 

. . . oughts are impersonal. They refer to standards of what ought to be 
done or experienced, standards independent of the individual's wishes 
(Heider, 1958, p. 219). 

They [oughts] refer to invariant standards, to "laws of conduct" which hold 
in spite of many variations in incidental or momentary factors (p. 220). 
Not only should ought disregard personal desires, not only does ought in 
principle appear unchanged in spite of incidental situational factors, but 
it is also universal and should look alike to everybody (p. 222). 



216 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Increased valuation of criticized aspects. A very specific example of 
system I bolstering was noted by Wright ( 1958 ) who investigated the 
reaction of high F scale subjects to non-specific criticism from an au- 
thority figure; that is, a classroom instructor disparaged the performance 
of all persons in the class. Following this, the high F scale subjects did 
not change their earlier positive evaluation of the instructor, but they 
did increase their evaluation of other members in the class who had 
also been criticized, a very clear example of bolstering in which the 
criticism is diluted by becoming more positive. Note that the bolstering 
consists of a simultaneous maintenance of respect for authority and a 
denial of the validity of the criticism. One can think of a very young 
child who is called a "bad boy" by his father and who can do nothing 
but insist that he is a "good boy." 

Behavioral Reactions to Refutation in System 1 

When refutation is experienced in system I functioning, the behav- 
ioral resolutions are likely to be rapid, inflexible, and/or overgeneralized. 
Thus, we would expect resolutions of the following forms: (1) forming 
standards quickly, (2) adopting a rigid pattern of response, or (3) 
submitting to the wishes of an authority figure in an overgeneralized 
fashion. 

RAPID FORMATION OF STANDARDS 

When system I is operating in relation to ambiguous situations, 
behavior aimed to reduce such normative uncertainty should occur 
very quickly. Evidence for this expectation is noted in the finding that 
authoritarians establish a norm more quickly than non-authoritarians 
in the relative ambiguity of the autokinetic situation ( Block and Block, 
1951; Harvey, 1959). 

BEHAVIORAL RIGIDITY 

Another mode of behavioral expression associated with system I is 
that described as rigidity, or a failure to consider alternative solutions. 
For example, Brown ( 1953 ) found that authoritarians were more rigid 
in attempting to solve an einstellung problem than were non-author- 
itarians. Results of this study indicated that such rigidity was associated 
with system I functioning only under ego-involving instructions; 
in terms of the present viewpoint, ego-involving instructions con- 
tain the implication of the potential refutation that would activate the 
system-specific behavioral expression of rigidity. Zelen (1955) has 
reported similar results in the area of level of aspiration. He found that 
rigidity in setting goals was associated with system I functioning ( High 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 217 

F scale) only under conditions of ambiguity (specifically, the condition 
involved trials that were of differing lengths of time). The results of 
both investigations emphasize that potential refutation to the system 
leads to system-specific resolutions. An implication of this is that more 
precise description and manipulation of the potentially refuting con- 
dition will lead to more accurate prediction of system-specific reso- 
lutions. 

OVERGENERALIZED SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY 

Closely related to the interpretation of events in terms of "ought" 
forces is the behavioral expression of submission associated with sys- 
tem I functioning. For example, Block and Block (1952) found that 
authoritarians are more likely to continue work at the dull, boring task 
of packing spools into a box when the experimenter gives very slight 
indication that they should continue, by comments such as "Don't you 
want to do some more." This pattern of response illustrates the "author- 
itarian submission" presumed to be one facet of the authoritarian 
personality (Adorno et al., 1950). 

Investigations of the effect of social influence have reported signif- 
icant correlations between degree of system I functioning (score on 
the F scale) and conformity to social influence ( Crutchfield, 1955; 
Harvey, 1958). In order for this relationship to occur, two conditions 
must be met: first, that the interpersonal disagreement represented in 
the social influence emanate from sources who are clearly powerful, 
important figures, and second, that the social pressure be unambiguous. 1 
As we consider in Chapter 8, the source of influence is of vital impor- 
tance when the response to such influence is viewed from a system- 
specific vantage point. 

Also relevant is the finding that although system I functioning may 
lead to yielding under special situational conditions, the person does 
not differentiate the influenced response from other responses not sub- 
jected to influence (Harvey, 1958). The results of this investigation 
indicated that system I Ss ( as measured by F scale) manifested response 
change in both the influenced and uninfluenced responses. Consonant 
with the concrete level of functioning assumed to characterize system 
I, results of this study indicated that when change occurred the modi- 
fied response was overgeneralized to other response systems. 

1 That system I yielding to social pressure occurs only under unambiguous con- 
ditions is illustrated in a finding of Janicki (1960) that system I Ss are inflexibly 
unsusceptible to influence when the influence is more ambiguous, that is, comes 
from only one person. 



218 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Reactions to Confirmation in System 1 

System-specific confirmation should facilitate performance as well 
as produce positive affect. In system I functioning, situations that pro- 
vide a high degree of structure with clearly prescribed rules of behavior 
should produce such response facilitation. For example, investigations 
have found (French and Ernest, 1955; Crockett, 1958) that persons 
who are disposed toward system I ( High F scale ) are more accepting 
of military ideology and authoritarian leadership. One is reminded of 
an incidental finding from the classic Lewin, Lippitt, and White ( 1939 ) 
study that the only boy who was pleased with the autocratic treatment 
was a youngster whose father was a colonel in the Army. At a cultural 
level, Murphy (1953) has noted that Indian students prefer directive, 
autocratic leadership presumably because they are more accustomed to 
highly structured direction. 

System II Functioning 

On the basis of the structure noted in Table 18, system II function- 
ing should be associated with a heightened sensitivity to the dimension 
of control, ranging from imposition of control to freedom from imposi- 
tion. Therefore, events experienced as involving imposition of control 
or dependence upon others will constitute refutation whereas events 
experienced as providing freedom from external control will constitute 
confirmation. The avoidance of system-specific refutation by bolstering 
will take the form of reaffirming one's independence and freedom from 
external control. Neutralization will presumably involve a minimization 
or denial of any necessity for dependence or being controlled. Behav- 
ioral resolutions to system-specific refutation will involve a general 
"moving away" or counteracting the experienced imposition. 

System 11 Sensitization 

From Table 18 it may be noted that system II functioning is closely 
attuned to the degree of potential control imposed by events. When 
system II is operating, reality is therefore "read" in terms of potential 
restriction — whether actual, or implied by any form of dependence 
upon the other person — or freedom from such restriction. Thus, func- 
tioning in system II is characterized by a tendency to view the actions 
of others directed toward oneself as potentially threatening. Support- 
ing this expectation is the finding that persons disposed toward system 
II (situational interpretation measure) are more likely to categorize 
other people in terms of interpersonal threat (that is, "a person you feel 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 219 

comfortable with" versus "a person who makes you uneasy") than in 
terms of other personal dimensions such as competence or attractiveness 
( Hunt and Schroder, 1959 ) . 

The sensitization characteristics of this system may be illustrated 
by noting examples of the conceptual dimensions employed by a boy 
strongly disposed toward system II functioning, as they were obtained 
by a modified form of the Role Concept Repertory Test ( Kelly, 1955 ) . 
In describing some of his teachers he used the following conceptual 
descriptions : 

"Miserable . . . always mad . . . sneering . . . try to make you feel 
little," [and later,] "Wouldn't get along with 'em . . . wouldn't give you 
half a chance . . . they'd just jump down your neck." [In describing his 
peers he used the following:] "Always bothering you . . . give you a hard 
time" . . . Big shots . . . better than everybody . . . show off . . . 
bragging . . . shoving everyone around" [and later,] "Acts like a friend at 
times but you know he isn't." 

These examples also illustrate many of the maneuvers to be described 
in relation to this system. However, they capture the flavor of the 
underlying distrust and orientation away from close interpersonal rela- 
tionships. Or, as another boy put it in a sentence completion response, 
"People . . . can be nice to talk to if you like them. Otherwise I don't 
notice them." 

Conditions Producing Refutation and 
Confirmation in System II 

One of the major methods by which people interact, and thus become 
dependent upon one another, is through evaluating each other, either 
implicitly or explicitly. However, in system II functioning, the evalu- 
ation by others is interpreted as potential control or restriction and thus 
produces refutation. Because the system functioning is aimed toward 
defining oneself as being different from others, almost any form of eval- 
uation from another is potentially refuting. Although the experience 
of refutation will be greater in negative evaluation than in positive, 
either form will produce refutation. The following sentence completion 
responses from a boy disposed toward system II functioning exemplify 
this : 

If someone says I am doing poorly ... I figure I could be doing much 
worse and I'm probably doing better than someone else, so I don't pay any 
attention. If someone says I am doing well . . . that's quite all right with 
me, but as far as I'm concerned it's worthless to me because I figure I 
could be doing even better. 

In contrast, situations involving no evaluation will represent con- 
firmation in this system. For example the same boy gave this response: 



220 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

I do my best work . . . when I work all alone. This is the only way I 
can concentrate. If the work is not interesting to me even this wouldn't 
help. 

An even more important form of confirmation here consists in suc- 
cessful opposition to authority. For example, the rebellious teenager 
who defies parental behavioral and achievement demands will ex- 
perience confirmation through the defeat of authority rather than in 
any specific achievement content ( though there may be "achievements" 
in areas disapproved by authority, for example, sexual conquests, car 
stealing). When the person functioning in terms of system II forms a 
positive interpersonal relationship, the basis is therefore likely to be 
mutual opposition to authority. 

Interpretive Maneuvers Associated with System II 

If the person functioning in terms of system II is confronted by po- 
tential refutation what are the system-specific maneuvers that he may 
employ? 

NEUTRALIZATION 

The following general patterns of neutralization are associated with 
this system: (1) failure to perceive, (2) non-commitment or denial of 
interest, (3) denial of responsibility, and (4) imputation of malevo- 
lence. 

Failure to perceive. System II functioning is associated with a mini- 
mization or lack of attention to variations in information. For example, 
McDavid and Schroder (1957) found that delinquent boys (whose 
orientation seems appropriately described as system II functioning, cf. 
Chapter 9) displayed an incapacity to differentiate between events of 
approval and disapproval. Regardless of the content of the evaluation 
they were insensitive to the information contained in the evaluation. In 
another study, Janicki (1959) found that persons disposed toward 
system II ( situational interpretation measure ) were less likely to change 
their self-evaluations following either praise or criticism than were 
persons disposed toward other systems. These studies illustrate one of 
the major difficulties in functioning that is arrested at system II: the 
incapacity to utilize information from others to clarify one's self- 
definition or other judgments. 

'Non-commitment. This maneuver consists of erecting the defense of 
"indifference" in advance against potential control or dependence. From 
the logic of system II it involves an anticipatory ploy that "beats the 
other to the punch." For example, Heider's comments on the dynamics 
underlying the "sour grapes" mechanism are illuminating. He points 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 221 

out that a successful outcome is a function of, among other things, 
"can" (or ability) and "try" (or intention). The following quotation 
considers the role of these factors more specifically: 

Sometimes the data make it very clear in the absence or failure of action, 
whether it is the "can" or the "try" that is the missing condition. But some- 
times the data are sufficiently ambiguous so that the person's own needs or 
wishes determine the attribution. 

An example of such egocentric attribution is the sour grapes fable. The 
fox pretends, or perhaps is even convinced, that he does not want the grapes 
rather than that he cannot get them. He attributes the failure to the "not 
want" (and the "not intend" and the "not try") instead of the "not can," 
since in this case the former is neutral as far as his self-esteem is concerned, 
and the latter is damaging (Heider, 1958, p. 118). 

The "sour grapes" denial of interest thus provides a technique of 
avoiding, softening, or diluting the consequences of action in advance. 
Such denial of involvement or non-commitment wards off the likeli- 
hood of negative evaluation. An excerpt from an interview with the 
same boy whose sentence completion responses were presented earlier 
illustrates this maneuver. The question, "Do you ever work on your 
car?" was asked. He replied: 

No, I'm not very mechanically minded . . . it's another non-interest of 
mine ... I don't have time anyway so I don't try to or bother to learn. 

What may be considered as a subtle variation in non-commitment 
is that of "unpredictable or variable" commitment, or giving off diffuse 
cues in which either the person's verbal statement or his performance 
is so inconsistent as to make evaluation difficult. Radiating diffuse or 
contradictory interpersonal cues in this way serves the purpose of 
system II in that the subject is always in a position of eluding the ob- 
server's interpretation (and/or evaluation). Obviously also, such a 
maneuver serves effectively to avoid interpersonal involvement and 
any form of dependence upon others. 

Denial of responsibility. Another means of disengaging oneself from 
any necessity to depend upon others is through denying one's own 
responsibility. In order for a person to experience success or failure he 
must first ascribe the performance to himself (Escalona, 1948). Deny- 
ing responsibility may circumvent negative evaluation, but it also 
prevents experiences of accomplishment; we have noted earlier the 
way in which this mode of operation interferes with providing system- 
specific "reward." This resolution is similar to the impunitive tendency 
described by Rosenzweig as ". . . [an] attempt to avoid blame alto- 
gether, whether of others or of oneself, and to gloss over the frustrating 
situation as though with a conciliatory objective" (Rosenzweig, 1944, 



222 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

p. 383). Such a maneuver is specifically characteristic of what we term 
indirect functioning in system II and as such may be related to so-called 
psychopathic behavior ( see Chapter 9 ) . 

Related to this maneuver are findings of Rotter and his colleagues 
(Rotter, Seeman, and Liverant, 1958; James and Rotter, 1958) who 
have shown the importance of a variable that they refer to as "internal 
vs. external control of reinforcement." For example, in one study Ss 
were preselected by means of a questionnaire measuring the tendency 
to perceive events as externally or internally controlled and were then 
confronted with tasks presented as either skill (internal control) or 
chance ( external control ) . When success in a task was presented ( and 
presumably perceived) as caused by chance (external control), Ss' 
expectations generalized less and extinguished more rapidly than when 
success was perceived as due to skill. 

In setting forth what they refer to as "techniques of neutralization" 
by which delinquents rationalize their violation of norms, Sykes and 
Matza (1957) have described how the delinquent denies responsibility 
for the act and attributes its cause to forces outside his control, for ex- 
ample, unloving parents, bad companions. 

Although the person functioning in terms of system II will deny 
responsibility for failure or other negative outcomes, he may neverthe- 
less claim credit for positive outcomes. For example, the delinquent 
who gets away with a theft may express his feeling that this proves his 
prowess, but when apprehended he may disclaim responsibility by 
neutralization noted above. This combination of blame avoidance and 
credit claiming is, in a sense, a "having it both ways" maneuver. 

Imputation of malevolence. If a person interprets a situation as oc- 
curring because of the malevolent intentions of the source, such an 
attribution at once serves the protective function of preventing de- 
pendence upon the other, as well as establishing justification for retali- 
ation against the source if necessary. Therefore, this maneuver should 
be associated with system II functioning. For example, in the same inter- 
view from which the earlier excerpt was drawn, the following response 
occurred to a question regarding repairing his car. 

Well, no, some of them could have done it for me ... I didn't have 
time to do it, but I don't trust them anyway . . . even if I know they want 
to go out with me I still trust myself more than them. 

This maneuver is similar to the extrapunitive tendencies, defined as 
"those in which the individual aggressively attributes the frustration 
to external persons or things" (Rosenzweig, 1944, p. 383). Such tend- 
encies are characteristic of direct system II functioning, which, as 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 223 

we contend in Chapter 9, is basic to antisocial delinquent patterns. Ex- 
trapuntive tendencies apparently increase after experimentally induced 
frustration (Lindzey, 1950), which would also be consonant with 
system II functioning. Harvey (1958) found that subjects who im- 
puted malevolence ("He was angry at me") to the source of an un- 
favorable evaluation showed less change in self-evaluation following 
the criticism. This resistance to external pressure toward self-change 
indicates the maintenance function served. 

Analvsis of interpretive responses made by persons disposed toward 
system II functioning in accounting for a hvpothetical situation of 
criticism indicate that this interpretation of negative intent may take a 
variety of forms : projected envy ( "He just wishes that he was good as 

I was"), projected egotism ("He thinks he's better than I am"), as well 
as more straightforward malicious intention ("He's just trving to give 
me a hard time" ) ( Hunt, 1957 ) . 

From the present viewpoint the two tendencies described by Rosen- 
zweig — impunitive and extrapunitive — are genotypicallv similar in their 
relatedness to system II functioning. However, we would view impuni- 
tive reactions (or denial of self -responsibility) as associated with in- 
direct functioning whereas extrapunitive reactions (or malevolent im- 
putation) are seen as associated with direct functioning. 

BOLSTERING 

Circumstances may not always permit evasion through non-commit- 
ment. What happens when the person functioning in terms of system 

II is forced to take a stand or set a goal? Since to admit weakness implies 
dependence on others, the person will be likelv to set goals that are 
excessively high in relation to his past performance. He will try to as- 
sert an attitude of hyperadequacy. Support for this contention comes 
from results indicating that persons disposed toward system II (situ- 
ational interpretation measure ) react to minimal failure by stating ex- 
cessively high goals and "leaving the field" ( Schroder and Hunt, 1957 ) . 
Such reaffirmation of competence is seen as a "whistling in the dark" 
techique aimed at minimizing potential refutation through the verbal 
assertion of high goal statement. 

This bolstering tendency in system II is also illustrated by the frequent 
finding of a curvilinear relationship between goal-setting and self- 
acceptance or personal adequacy (P. S. Sears, 1940; Rotter, 1943; 
Cohen, 1954). These studies indicate that persons who are poorlv ad- 
justed or low in self-acceptance state either excessively low or exces- 
sively high goals. From the present conceptual viewpoint we would 
argue that the divergence into two extremes of goal-setting represents 



224 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

the operation of different systems: excessively high goals being as- 
sociated with system II bolstering and excessively low goals associated 
with the behavioral expression of submission and worthlessness in in- 
direct system I functioning. In both cases the distorted expectation 
serves to maintain system-specific equilibrium. 

Rotter, Seeman, and Liverant (1958) have also reported a relation- 
ship between the tendency to displace responsibility to external events 
(denial of self -responsibility ) and setting excessively high goals, a 
relationship that would be viewed in the present framework as stem- 
ming from system II functioning. 

Behavioral Reactions to Refutation in System II 

Three patterns of behavioral reaction are considered as specifically 
associated with this system: (1) source devaluation, (2) behavioral 
avoidance, and (3) "boomerang' response. 

SOURCE DEVALUATION 

This response is closely related to the antecedent interpretation of 
malevolent imputation, in terms of the "eye for an eye and a tooth for 
a tooth" logic prevalent in system II. Put in oversimplified terms, "If 
he's trying to give me a hard time I have a perfect right to aggress 
against him," or as a distorted golden rule, "Do unto others before 
others can do unto you." In studying reactions to unfavorable eval- 
uations of the self, Harvey, Kelley, and Shapiro ( 1957 ) found that 
source devaluation increased as a function of unfavorableness of the 
rating, and more recently Harvey (1958) has replicated this finding. 

In a conformity experiment, Steiner and Peters (1958) found that 
devaluation of the influencing source varied inversely with the frequency 
of yielding to social influence. These results directly support the role 
of source devaluation in avoiding dependence upon others. In addi- 
tion, Schroder ( 1957 ) has shown that persons disposed toward system 
II are more likely to devalue the source of criticism when reacting to 
verbal criticism in a role-playing situation. 

BEHAVIORAL AVOIDANCE 

Another mode for coping with refutation in system II is to "leave 
the field." It was briefly noted earlier that persons disposed toward 
system II functioning are more likely to "leave the field," that is, elect 
to stop working on the problem in a problem-solving situation at the 
early signs of failure (Schroder and Hunt, 1957). It may be useful to 
view non-commitment, reaffirmation of competence (excessively high 
goal setting ) , and behavioral avoidance as differing system II modes of 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 225 

coping over a period of time and under varying conditions. Initially 
the person attempts to avoid commitment; forced to state a goal, he 
states it excessively high; falling short of his goal, he "leaves the field" 
at the earliest opportunity. 

"boomerang" response 

When a subject in a social-influence experiment hears a majority 
report that differs from his own judgment, one of several alternative 
responses is to respond differently in a direction away from the majority 
report, that is, to recoil from the influence. We have borrowed the term 
"boomerang" from attitude-change literature to describe such a re- 
sponse. This response is clearly functionally related to the source deval- 
uation, which Steiner and Peters found to be inversely related to 
yielding to social influence. That the "boomerang" response is asso- 
ciated with system II functioning is nicely illustrated in a study by 
Schroder and Janicki (1959b). In the experiment system II Ss were 
preselected by a situational interpretation measure and were then 
enabled to form a judgmental standard (judging distance between two 
points of light). "Influence" was then applied by exposing a partner to 
different distances (either shorter or longer) in a constant direction 
that the partner judged while the system II S was present. The original 
standard was then presented again to the subject. It was found that 
persons disposed toward system II reacted by moving away from their 
own earlier standard of judgment in a direction that was opposite to 
that of the judgment made by the partner, a response pattern that 
may be considered a "boomerang." Similar support comes from a report 
by Linton and Graham ( 1959 ) that "negative changers" in an attitude 
change experiment — that is, persons whose attitudes moved in a di- 
rection opposed to the communication — showed personality character- 
istics that would presumablv be associated with system II functioning: 
"Feel physically inadequate, Rebellious toward authority and conven- 
tion, Expressions of hostility" (Linton and Graham, 1959, p. 94). 

Reactions to Confirmation in System II 

From the viewpoint of facilitation of performance, persons disposed 
toward system II would likely function best in a "control group" that 
is, no experimental manipulation whatsoever. Mandler and Sarason 
(1952) have observed the performance of a group of college Ss clas- 
sified as high in test anxiety (a personality pattern viewed in present 
terms as similar to system II, partly on the basis of an earlier reported 
relationship between manifest anxiety and system II disposition on a 
situational interpretation measure, Schroder and Hunt, 1957, p. 17). 



226 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

They found performance disruption after either positive or negative 
evaluation by the experimenter. Optimal performance for these persons 
occurred when the experimenter said nothing — that is, a "no eval- 
uation" condition. Grace ( 1948 ) studied the personality characteristics 
of children who performed better under a neutral condition than under 
either approval or disapproval and reported that such children were 
insecure, personally inferior, and were generally poorly adjusted at 
home and in school. Although the Grace study proceeds in reverse of 
the Mandler-Sarason study, the results attest to the relative facilita- 
tion of no evaluation upon system II functioning. 

Persons disposed to system II functioning may also attempt to obtain 
confirmation by testing the limits and patience of the source by their 
irritating or irresponsible behavior until the source finally reacts in an 
unfriendly fashion, thus confirming the closed system II structure. 

System III Functioning 

Referring once more to Table 18, we would expect system III func- 
tioning to show sensitivity to the dimension that ranges from mutuality 
and acceptance at one pole to rejection and aloneness at the other. 
Events experienced as rejection will constitute refutation whereas 
events experienced as mutuality and dependence will constitute con- 
firmation. Bolstering should take the form of reaffirming mutuality 
whereas neutralization occurs through the denial of rejection. Behav- 
ioral resolutions to system-specific refutation will involve a moving 
toward the other person in an effort to reinstate the bond of interper- 
sonal acceptance. 

System HI Sensitization 

The poles of this system indicate a sensitization to mutuality or 
dependence. Partly because of the more highly differentiated nature 
of this system, the sensitization characteristics or events to which the 
system is most attuned are somewhat more complicated than was true 
for the first two systems. Successful transition or progression to system 
III functioning involves a differentiation between other persons, or 
differentiating certain others from the generalized standard operating 
in system I functioning. Therefore we would expect system III func- 
tioning to be especially open to ( 1 ) the evaluative reaction of others 
to one's behavior and ( 2 ) the personal characteristics of the other per- 
son, especially whether he is attractive, or a potential source of ap- 
proval for the individual. 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 227 

SENSITIZATION TO OTHERS 

In sharp contrast to the avoidance of evaluation noted in system II, 
the operation of system III involves an openness to the evaluation made 
by sources of approval since the relevant dimensions involve other 
people rather than the subject. In oversimplified terms, system III 
functioning rests on a "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" formulation that 
contrasts with the "beat 'em" prevalent in system II. This system-spe- 
cific sensitization is quite similar to the "other-directed" orientation 
described by David Riesman ( 1950 ) : "What is common to all other- 
directeds is that their contemporaries are the source of direction for 
the individual . . ." (Riesman, 1950, p. 22). 

In his discussion Riesman clarifies the distinction between what 
would presently be regarded as system III and system IV by describing 
what aspect is internalized in system III: 

This source [contemporaries] is of course "internalized" in the sense that 
dependence on it for guidance in life is implanted early. The goals toward 
which the other-directed person strives shift with that guidance: it is only 
the process of striving itself and the process of paying close attention to the 
signals from others that remain unaltered throughout life (Riesman, 1950, 
p. 22). 

For system I the generalized standard rather than contemporaries 
provides direction. Hence, the distinction that Riesman draws between 
tradition-direction and other-direction is therefore applicable to dis- 
tinguishing between system I and system III, respectively: 

The tradition-directed person takes his signals from others, but they come 
in a cultural monotone; he needs no complex receiving equipment to pick 
them up. The other-directed person must be able to receive signals from 
far and near; the sources are many, the changes rapid. What can be 
internalized, then, is not a code of behavior but the elaborate equipment 
needed to attend to such messages and occasionally to participate in their 
circulation. . . . This control equipment, instead of being like a gyroscope, 
is like a radar (Riesman, 1950, p. 26). 

A recent study by Atkinson and Walker ( 1956 ) illustrates the effect 
of this "elaborate equipment" Riesman describes. These authors exposed 
a picture of a human face at subthreshold levels and studied visual 
awareness as a function of the strength of affiliation motive (and in- 
tensity of affiliation induction conditions). Since the stimulus of the 
human face was assumed to be more motivationally relevant than the 
impersonal control stimuli, the greater accuracy shown in identifying 
the face both in high affiliation Ss and under affiliation arousal was 
interpreted as reflecting a heightened sensitivity to motivationally rele- 
vant stimuli. 



228 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 



DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN OTHERS 

Persons disposed toward system III place more "weight" upon 
whether the other person is someone they like or dislike ( Schroder and 
Hunt, 1958). That is, in addition to focusing on the other person more 
intently, system III functioning also leads to more concern with the 
kind of person involved. Or as Riesman puts it: 

Of course, it matters very much who these "others" are: whether they are 
the individual's immediate circle or a "higher" circle or the anonymous 
voices of the mass media; . . . acquaintances or only of those who 
"count" (Riesman, 1950, pp. 22-23). 

In system III functioning, the subject differentiates between others 
by noting their differential reaction to his actions. As system III func- 
tioning becomes increasingly closed or arrested, these between-other 
differentiations become sharper and, although quite complex, are par- 
ticularly sensitive to the dimension of source attractiveness. That per- 
sons disposed toward system III are more sensitized to the attractive- 
ness dimension has been shown by their reaction to hypothetical 
criticism from liked and disliked sources (Schroder and Hunt, 1958). 
This sensitization is shown also in how Ss categorize others in a situ- 
ation where there is a choice between the dimension of source attractive- 
ness and other possible dimensions of categorizing ( Hunt and Schroder, 
1959). It has been further demonstrated through differential suscep- 
tibility to social pressure from liked versus disliked sources of influence 
in a conformity experiment (Wilson, 1960). System III functioning was 
referred to in these investigations as "social accommodation." 

Conditions Producing Refutation and 
Confirmation in System III 

For system III, refutation is represented by rejection, or events im- 
plying "aloneness." Events read as "non-mutuality" in this system are 
potentially refuting, in part because of the general principle that ref- 
utation is maximal when the events represent pressures toward the 
next highest level of functioning. Thus, part of the underlying dynamics 
may consist of non-supportive events that are transformed in terms of 
the threat implied in autonomy. In addition, these pressures toward 
autonomy are similar to the "negative independence" pole of system II 
from which the person functioning at system III has progressed. 

If refutation comes from rejection, confirmation comes from ap- 
proval. Riesman's comments regarding similar orientations in "other- 
directedness" are relevant: 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 229 

It is perhaps the insatiable force of this psychological need for approval 
that differentiates people . . . whom we regard as other-directed, from 
very similar types. . . . (Riesman, 1950, p. 23). 

At this level, self-definition and the evaluation of oneself are deter- 
mined very largely by the effect one can produce upon others. System- 
specific confirmation is aptly illustrated in White's comments on the 
"marketing orientation" described by Fromm: 

Self-esteem here depends upon conditions more or less beyond one's 
control. . . . Success is so heavily defined as being what others want you 
to be, rather than as doing certain things with effective skill, that the 
opinions of others become almost the sole source of self-feeling and self- 
esteem (White, 1956, p. 184). 

Persons functioning in terms of system III will not necessarily experi- 
ence refutation from poor performance or making errors provided that 
such responses are deemed praiseworthy by the valued other person. 
Stated more specifically, if confronted by negative task feedback (fail- 
ure) that conflicts with positive source evaluation (praise), the person 
functioning in system III is more susceptible to the latter, source- 
mediated "channel," and thus will experience confirmation (Wells 
and Hunt, 1959). 

Interpretive Maneuvers Associated 
with System III 

NEUTRALIZATION 

Potential loss of interpersonal support or events of potential rejec- 
tion may be interpretatively avoided by two maneuvers: (1) denial of 
source responsibility and (2) denial of rejection. 

Denial of source responsibility. If the source can be "excused" or 
the event reinterpreted as a special case, potential refutation can be 
avoided. Examples of excusing the source would include interpre- 
tations such as "He couldn't help it," or "He isn't himself today." In 
its aim to dissociate the source from the event, this system Ill-related 
maneuver is similar to maneuvers emanating from system I. However, 
a subtle, but nonetheless important, system-specific difference may be 
noted in that dissociation related to svstem I involves cultural dimen- 
sions, for example, "He did not understand what he was supposed to 
do," whereas dissociation related to system III involves more person- 
alized dimensions, for example, "He may not be feeling well today." 

Because this denying maneuver is more likely to be evoked by at- 
tractive sources, the study by Harvey, Kelley, and Shapiro (1957) 
and replication by Harvey (1958) mentioned earlier are relevant. 



230 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

In studying the occurrence of three maintenance mechanisms after 
a negative evaluation of the self by another person (either a friend or 
stranger), it was found that although denial of source responsibility, 
or dissociation, increased sharply as the unfavorableness of the "friend's" 
evaluation increased, no such increase was noted to the "stranger's" 
evaluation. Put in current terms the evaluation from the friend is more 
likely to represent potential system III refutation, thus requiring an 
interpretive maneuver such as dissociation. 

Denial of rejection. This system-specific maneuver dilutes or cancels 
the meaning of the event by passing it off as a joke, for example, "He's 
just kidding." Persons disposed toward system III functioning (based 
on a situational interpretation measure ) are much more likely to inter- 
pret criticism from attractive sources in this fashion (Schroder and 
Hunt, 1959). From the viewpoint of system III relatedness, joking and 
"fooling around" represent modes of interaction that can foster mutuality 
in addition to their neutralizing function. However, as we note later, 
the maneuver also cuts off receptivity to information. 

These two neutralizing maneuvers, denial of source responsibility 
and denial of rejection, may be contrasted with the system II maneuvers 
of denial of self -responsibility and malevolent imputation. Although 
in both systems the maneuvers reinterpret either responsibility or 
intention, the direction of the interpretation is reversed in system III 
functioning. The system II maneuvers excuse the self and blame the 
other person; the system III maneuvers excuse the other person and 
place the blame, if anywhere, on the self. In system III, efforts are 
made primarily to avoid blame on others and only secondarily of 
self, so that under extreme threat to the maintenance of mutuality, 
denial of self-blame breaks down and extreme intropunitiveness occurs 
( cf . extreme forms of system III functioning in Chapter 9 ) . 

BOLSTERING 

Confronted by potential refutation, system III functioning should 
be associated with a reaffirmation of one's being accepted by others. 
Bolstering therefore takes the form of excessively high estimation of 
one's sociometric acceptance, akin to the high goal statements related 
to performance noted in system II. This maneuver is epitomized by 
the statement, "We're really the best of friends." 

Behavioral Reactions to Refutation in System III 

Three forms of behavioral expression are expected: (1) excessive 
reliance upon others for determining self -evaluation, (2) submission 
to influence in an over generalized fashion, and (3) seeking interper- 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 231 

soiwl support. In describing these system-specific reactions we dis- 
tinguish between responses emanating from system I and from system 
III, since they are similar in many respects. 

EXCESSIVE RELIANCE UPON OTHERS 
FOR DETERMINING SELF-EVALUATION 

System III functioning consists of articulating one's self-definition 
primarily in terms of the effects produced in others. In some respects, 
therefore, it is similar to Witkin's "field dependent" mode, although as 
we have observed earlier, the "field dependent" mode bears a resem- 
blance to both system I and system III. 

McDavid (1959) found that, compared to a "message-oriented" 
group (system IV), "source-oriented" subjects (system III) were "more 
prone to modify their perceptions of themselves in a work situation 
following an interpersonal communication" (McDavid, 1959, p. 245). 
Similar results were obtained by Janicki ( 1959 ) who found that system 
III Ss (defined by a situational interpretation measure) changed their 
self-evaluations more after communications from an attractive source; 
that is, they increased their self-evaluation more following praise and 
decreased their self-evaluation more following criticism than did the 
other three groups. Such excessive dependence upon external influence 
is of course closely related to the next reaction pattern of submission to 
influence. 

SUBMISSION TO INFLUENCE IN 
AN OVERGENERALIZED FASHION 

Evidence from social influence experiments that supports the system- 
specific incidence of this reaction comes from several studies. Greater 
incidence of yielding has been reported in persons described as high in 
"need for social approval" (Moeller and Applezweig, 1957); in persons 
oriented toward pleasing others ( Linton and Graham, 1959 ) ; in source- 
oriented persons (McDavid, 1959); and in persons placing a greater 
"weight" upon the attractiveness of the source (Schroder and Hunt, 
1958). As will be considered in Chapter 8, in order to distinguish be- 
tween systems I and III, the influencing sources must be separated in 
terms of power and attractiveness, respectively, because the kind of 
source producing overgeneralized submission differs in these two sys- 
tems. 

In considering the generalization of an influenced response, Schroder 
and Janicki (1959b) have reported that a system III group reflected 
greater generalization in time (less extinction) and space (change in 
influenced response carried over to uninfluenced responses ) . This latter 



232 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

finding is similar to Harvey's finding (1958) reported earlier, that sys- 
tem I Ss reflect a lack of differentiation between influenced and uninflu- 
enced responses. Whether these similar findings represent a failure of 
the measuring instruments to distinguish system I from system III, or 
whether both systems respond identically in terms of such overgeneral- 
ization remains a matter for further investigation. 

SEEKING INTERPERSONAL SUPPORT 

The nature of system-specific support-seeking is illustrated by a 
recent report by Schacter (1Q59). Support-seeking was indicated by 
the person's preference to spend a period of time before an anxiety- 
arousing experience with other persons (together) or by oneself 
(alone). Schacter found that the preference for the "together" condition 
was associated with persons who were either only children or first-born. 
As we have noted earlier such an ordinal position is more likely to be 
associated with parental training that would lead to functioning ar- 
rested at system III. 

Reaction to Confirmation in System HI 

System III functioning is associated with response facilitation under 
conditions of favorable evaluation from the other, such as approval. 
For example, McCarter and Schroder (1959) studied "learning without 
awareness" in response to experimenter approval ("good") in dif- 
ferent dispositional groups. They found that persons disposed toward 
system III ( situational interpretation measure ) "learned" more rapidly 
than any other group under these conditions. Also, I. Sarason (1958) 
has reported that patients who were rated as more dependent by their 
therapists were more susceptible to effects of experimenter approval 
in a "learning without awareness" situation. 

Similar system-specific facilitation is noted in a study by French 
( 1958b), which compared the problem solving effectiveness of a group 
disposed toward system III (high affiliation need) with another group. 
Interest centered upon variations in group performance in response to 
two forms of feedback specifically relevant to each group: task feed- 
back ("This group is working very efficiently") or feeling feedback 
( "This group works well together" ) . Facilitating effects occurred when 
the feedback was congruent with the personality organization of group 
members; more specifically, groups composed of what we would call 
system III Ss worked more effectively under conditions of feeling feed- 
back than under task feedback. 

A study by Gewirtz and Baer (1958) is also appropriate since it 
provided for both the induction of system III functioning and system- 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 233 

specific confirmation. Nursery school children underwent a brief period 
of social deprivation prior to experiencing social approval in relation 
to a particular activity, such as dropping marbles into a box. From an 
induction point of view they found that: 

... it appears that the effectiveness of a representative social reinforcer 
may be enhanced by an operation of deprivation, as in the case for the 
reinforcers of primary appetitive drives like hunger and thirst (Gewirtz 
and Baer, 1958, pp. 55-56). 

In present terms the experience of social deprivation apparently 
induced system III functioning in most children. Moreover, the authors 
state : 

The effectiveness of this reinforcer appears enhanced particularly for Ss 
who typically seek it (Gewirtz and Baer, 1958, p. 56). 

Again, our interpretation is that the greatest facilitating effects oc- 
curred in children disposed toward system III functioning (high in 
need for approval ) . 

System IV Functioning 

On the basis of Table 18, system IV functioning is associated with 
sensitization to the dimension that ranges from restriction of autonomy 
to expression of autonomy. Along this system-specific dimension, events 
experienced as restricting autonomy constitute refutation whereas 
events experienced as permitting expression of autonomy constitute 
confirmation. Bolstering takes the form of reaffirming the importance 
of autonomy and interdependence in system IV, whereas neutralization 
will involve a minimization of restriction in autonomy by denial of 
relevance of standards. Behavioral resolutions of system-specific ref- 
utation will involve an attempt to clarify one's own standards. 

System IV Sensitization 

System IV is characterized by openness to the individual's own 
standards ( autonomy, multiple alternatives ) and to situations favoring 
their expressions. We have referred to the framework of system IV 
organization as ipsative, since judgments are based on the individual's 
internal standards and events are transformed self-reflexively. Such 
openness is possible because of the operation of a mechanism similar 
to what Riesman (1950) has called a psychological "gyroscope," as 
described in the following passage: 

... a new psychological mechanism appropriate to the more open societv 
is "invented": it is what I like to describe as a psychological gyroscope. 



234 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

This instrument, once it is set by the parents and other authorities, keeps 
the inner-directed person . . . "on course" even when tradition, as re- 
sponded to by his character, no longer dictates his moves. The inner-directed 
person becomes capable of maintaining a delicate balance between the 
demands upon him of his life goal and the bufferings of his external environ- 
ment (Riesman, 1950, p. 16). 

The highly differentiated, abstract nature of system IV organization 
is associated with functioning that is more sensitive to situational 
nuances with less defensive closedness, or restriction of information. To 
illustrate certain areas of sensitivity we may note three specific di- 
mensions: (1) openness to differences between events, (2) openness 
to differing levels of task difficulty, and (3) openness to variations in 
the competence, or information potential of sources. These three di- 
mensions are not intended to be exhaustive, but are all supported by 
empirical evidence and illustrate system IV sensitization. 

OPENNESS TO DIFFERENCES BETWEEN 
EVENTS (GREATER DIFFERENTIATION) 

In contrast to the failure to discriminate between positive and neg- 
ative events noted in system II, this system is carefully attuned to the 
evaluative information of a communication. Thus Janicki ( 1959 ) found 
that, in reacting to events of approval and disapproval under varying 
conditions, persons disposed toward system IV (as indicated by an 
interpretation measure) give more "predictable" postevent evaluations 
in terms of a general "objective" model such as proposed by Osgood and 
Tannebaum (1955). Although those persons functioning in the more 
concrete systems may attach excessive "weight" to the source, the pre- 
vious relationship between source and recipient, or to some other as- 
pect, persons disposed toward system IV react with a minimum of such 
distortions, and their evaluations are accordingly closer to those pre- 
dicted by the general model (which assumes all factors will be objec- 
tively weighted) than were the other three groups. System IV func- 
tioning is also associated with a differentiation between source and 
statement, which permits reacting to the information contained in the 
statement as distinct from attitudes toward the source of the statement. 



OPENNESS TO DIFFERING LEVELS 
OF TASK DIFFICULTY 

Situational variations may also involve the dimension of task dif- 
ficulty. Heider (1958) points out that, if we disregard intention or 
"trying," a successful outcome may be seen as a function of the ability 
of the person and the difficulty imposed by the environment: 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 235 

If the task is easy, then even a person with little ability can clo it; if it 
is difficult, the person cannot do it unless he has greater ability. Or, we may 
say, if a person succeeds, then his ability must be greater than the environ- 
mental difficulty; if he fails (and has maximally exerted himself), his ability 
must be less than the environmental difficulty (Heider, 1958, p. 87). 

System-specific sensitization to task difficulty' is illustrated in the 
study by McDavid ( 1959 ) referred to earlier that focused on the re- 
sponse of two dispositional groups to social influence. He found that 
Ss in the system IV group ( "message-oriented" according to a sentence 
completion measure) were affected more by variations in task dif- 
ficulty than were Ss disposed toward system III. 

OPENNESS TO VARIATION IN COMPETENCE, 
OR INFORMATION POTENTIAL, OF SOURCES 

In "reading" reality in terms of potential information available, 
system IV functioning is more closely attuned to cues regarding the 
competence of the source. Postcriticism evaluations are more likely to 
reflect variation in the competence of criticizing sources in this sys- 
tem (Hunt and Wells, 1959). Wilson (1960) found that in a social 
influence situation the incidence of vielding by a person disposed to- 
ward system IV was determined partly by the subject's competence 
(intelligence level) relative to that of the influencing sources. Faced 
by the task of counting clicks, the person disposed to system IV utilized 
information from the other sources when they were considerably more 
competent, though not when the sources were less competent than 
himself. What constitutes "information" for system IV therefore is 
determined in part by the subject's internal standard. If the system IV 
S is uncertain of his judgment (and this can occur for a number of 
reasons, for example, difficult task, low level of competence in area, 
or stimulus ambiguity ) he will be more likely to take account of other 
person's judgments as potential information. 

Conditions Producing Refutation and 
Confirmation in System IV 

Because of its more highly differentiated nature, in system IV func- 
tioning there is less likelihood of experiencing a high degree of refuta- 
tion. However, refutation will be experienced in situations involving re- 
striction of autonomy. If the person functioning in terms of system IV 
is certain of his judgment in a social influence experiment, he will ex- 
perience social pressure or social influence as potential refutation. 
Under these conditions, social influence is interpreted as arbitrary, 
unilateral, and restrictive of opportunity for interdependent or auton- 
omous functioning. 



236 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Confirmation is expected to occur from any events that provide the 
opportunity for consideration from more than one viewpoint and that 
permit interdependent functioning. 

Interpersonal relations viewed in terms of system IV functioning will 
consist of a mutually respecting, tolerant atmosphere, for example, 
"You go to your church and I'll go to mine." Persons functioning in 
terms of system IV will likely be more attracted to other individuals 
who are flexible, informative, and autonomous, while they will avoid 
other individuals who are rigid, overconventional, and unspontaneous. 
Therefore, the sociometric choices of persons functioning in terms of 
system IV should theoretically be exactly opposite to the choices of 
persons functioning in terms of system I. 

Interpretive Maneuvers Associated 
with System TV 

The more abstract the level of functioning, the more openness to 
various dimensions. The more openness to various dimensions, the less is 
the necessity for interpretive maneuvers. Thus, although there are 
certain forms of interpretive maneuvers associated with system IV, 
we would expect the general incidence of such reinterpretations to be 
less frequent in this system than others because of its abstract nature. 

NEUTRALIZATION-DENIAL 

OF RELEVANCE OF STANDARDS 

Faced with potential refutation, the person functioning in terms of 
system IV may affirm that his standards are different from those of the 
(imposing) source and assert that the latter do not apply to him. This 
maneuver is like the little elf's retort, "I'm quite as big for me as you 
are big for you." The person neutralizes the potential refutation by 
acknowledging that, like himself, the other person has his standards, but 
that the standards or frames of reference are sufficiently different to 
obviate any necessity for the subject to take further account of the 
situation. 

Persons disposed toward system IV (according to an interpretation 
measure), when confronted by criticism, were more likely to utilize 
the following kind of neutralizing attributions: "Something I was do- 
ing looked wrong according to his tastes or method, yet for me it was 
all right," or "Because what I think I was doing well, he wouldn't 
think it is good work" (Schroder and Hunt, 1959). We may note that 
such a maneuver mm/ be defensive if the subject distorts the other 
person's standard in the interpretation. However, to the extent that 
such distortion occurs, we would consider the maneuver as emanating 
from system II functioning. 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 237 

BOLSTERING 

In fully articulated, well-established system IV functioning, bolster- 
ing is by definition ( of the system ) largely unncessary. In the develop- 
ment and articulation of system IV, however, bolstering could take the 
form of a reaffirmation of an informational orientation. Although not 
expected to occur frequently, such a maneuver minimizes an event 
because it contains no information. 

Behavioral Reactions to Refutation in System IV 

MAINTAINING STANDARD IN RESPONSE TO 
NON-INFORMATIONAL SOCIAL INFLUENCE 

Results from social influence investigations described earlier (p. 231) 
have generally involved comparing responses of persons disposed to- 
ward system III with those disposed toward system IV. These studies 
(Moeller and Applezweig, 1957; Schroder and Hunt, 1959; McDavid, 
1959; Linton and Graham, 1959) indicate that the system IV subject 
is not likely to be susceptible to generalized social pressure. 

Maintenance of one's standard occurs in situations assumed to 
maximize system-specific refutation. However, another characteristic of 
system IV is a continual modification and realignment of internal 
organization in relation to new experiences. Janicki (1960) found that 
persons disposed toward system IV yielded more to a single partner 
than did persons disposed toward system I or III. 

PROVISIONAL SELF-DEVALUATION 
AND SELF-CORRECTION 

The effectiveness of this system in new learning situations is made 
possible by provisional self-devaluation and its potential consequence, 
self-correction. We are assuming that if a person can ascribe failure to 
himself, or more specifically, to some inadequacy in his response in 
that particular situation, he may modify his responses more effectively. 
The nature of this process may be seen in the following: 

Central to the present position is the assumption that, in order to adjust 
effectively to a situation of failure, an individual must admit that he is 
doing poorly, that he is in some way inadequate, or that he is, in fact, 
failing. We assumed that when an S interprets a failure situation by thinking 
"This means I'm not very good at this" that such an interpretation implies 
an admission of some personal inadequacy or self -negation. It should be 
emphasized that we are not using the term "inadequacy" in its usual sense 
which implies behavioral ineffectiveness. In contrast we mean by "inade- 
quate" that the individual is willing to consider possible weaknesses, to admit 
that he may be wrong, thus opening the possibility for modifving his be- 
havior (Schroder and Hunt, 1957, p. 9). 



238 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Results of this study indicated that persons who provisionally low- 
ered self-estimates ( that is, were disposed toward system IV ) responded 
more adaptively to failure in a problem-solving task. They lowered 
their goals to bring them in line with their lower scores, abandoned 
their earlier unsatisfactory solutions, and looked for other new solu- 
tions (see below). And they persisted with continued attempts in the 
face of failure (Schroder and Hunt, 1957). We infer that such a 
constellation of responses is dependent upon provisional self-devalu- 
ation ("I may be wrong") or recognition of the need for self-correction 
("I'm not very good at this") (Hunt and Schroder, 1958). This system 
IV-related pattern of flexibility and persistence is also based on the 
interdependent structure that has developed through experiences of 
self-competence and mastery. In order to adopt a self-corrective orien- 
tation, the person must be sufficiently confident through past suc- 
cessful experiences that his admission of the inadequacy will not be 
threatening. 

Also related to this point are findings that persons disposed toward 
system IV functioning (as indicated by a situational measure) have 
the lowest score on the F scale ( Schroder and Janicki, 1959a ) and do 
not make highly extreme judgments of other people (Schroder and 
McCarter, 1959). 

seeking information 
(exploratory behavior) 

Implicit but highly important is our assumption that system IV 
functioning is associated with reactions aimed to test the highly dif- 
ferentiated system IV structure by trying out new differentiations in 
situations providing maximum feedback and subsequent structural 
reorganization, if necessary. System IV functioning therefore provides 
a paradigm of the Socratic exhortation to "Know thyself." 

Persons functioning in terms of system IV are generally more likely 
to interpret criticism in terms of potential information, "He was showing 
me my mistake" or "He wants to give me some pointers" ( Schroder and 
Hunt, 1959). System IV is therefore similar to the process of object 
appraisal described by Smith, Bruner, and White ( 1956) : 

To the extent that object appraisal predominates, the person tends to 
react rationally, according to his lights and according to the information at 
his disposal. In terms of this function, his interests and values stand to be 
advanced by flexibility on his part in assimilating the implication of new 
facts (Smith, Bruner, and White, 1956, p. 277). 

We mentioned above the fact that looking for alternative solutions 
will occur more often in this system. Furthermore, the search for 
further information will vary along the direct-indirect dimension within 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 239 

this system. This variation is illustrated bv a recent study by Cohler and 
Kelman (1959). First, it may be noted that Kelman's concept of inter- 
nalization is, in many ways, similar to our system IV, as may be seen 
in the following: 

Internalization can be said to occur when an individual conforms because 
the content of the induced behavior — the ideas and actions of which it is 
composed — are intrinsically rewarding. He adopts the induced behavior 
because he considers it useful for the solution of a problem or because it 
is congenial to his needs. Behavior adopted in this fashion tends to be 
integrated with the individual's existing values (Kelman, 1956, p. 176). 

In the Cohler-Kelman study, subjects were preselected who were 
disposed toward internalization. Next, the Ss were subdivided into two 
groups, "clarifiers" and "simplifiers," and this distinction was found to 
be important in accounting for the degree of delayed attitude change 
in a controlled experiment. From the present viewpoint we would re- 
gard clarification as a more direct form of system IV behavioral ex- 
pression and simplification as related to the more indirect system IV 
functioning. 

Reactions to Confirmation in System IV 

The abstract nature of system IV functioning permits the assimilation 
of a wide range of events without experiencing refutation. In this 
sense, most of system IV functioning consists of reaction to confirmation 
or takes confirmation for granted, and therefore such a consideration is 
less appropriate here than in the case of the other three systems. Sys- 
tem IV functionino; is reality-oriented and "self-actualizing." Successful 
interpretations of reality, adaptations to it, and the manipulation of 
environmental forces all contribute to confirmation in system IV. Pro 2- 
ress toward these goals confirms and encourages the system IV orien- 
tation, and also increases the person's generalized confidence and self- 
respect. 

Having considered the system-specific interpretive maneuvers and 
modes of behavioral expression it may be helpful to view them in sum- 
mary form as is shown in Table 20. 

Application of Other Formulations to System- 
Specific Interpretive Maneuvers 

Heiders Levels of Attribution 

In discussing the process by which an individual categorizes a 
situation, Heider maintains (1958, pp. 255-256) that the attributing 
process may proceed at one or more different levels. He considers 





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FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 



241 



these levels in relation to the case in which a disagreeable event (x) 
has happened to a person (p ) as follows : 

1. What is the source of x? Did it occur by chance? Did p himself cause 
it? Let us assume that the source is perceived to be another person, o. 

2. Then the question may arise as to whether the harm was intended or 
not. Perhaps the unpleasant occurrence was not at all intended for p. Perhaps 
o did it to please someone else and so did not have any personal wish to 
hurt p. Perhaps o's true goal was to benefit p, but his means were in error 
. . . (Heider, 1958, pp. 255-256). 

Heider continues by discussing a third, "deeper" attributive level 
of responsibility and intention that provides a beginning framework to 
view several attributive possibilites, which will be shown to have system- 
specific relevance. The levels may be summarized as follows: 



Diagram of Heider's Levels of Attribution 

Level Self-Responsible? Other Responsible? 

1. Responsibilitv for disagree- Yes No Yes No 

able event 



2. If other responsible, what 
was intention? 



Negative Intention Positive Intention 



Since the questions are hierarchically organized, the question of 
intention is not relevant unless the other person is seen as responsible 
for the event. In relating this formulation to the present systems it may 
be noted that a "No" categorization of responsibility amounts to a 
neutralizing interpretation. This similarity may be seen by placing 
abbreviations of svstem referents into the Heider framework as follows: 



System Referents Expressed in Terms of Attribution Levels 

Level Self-Responsible? Other Responsible? 



1. Responsibilitv for disagree- 
able event 



2. If other responsible, what 
was intention? 



Yes 
IV 



No 
II 



Yes 



No 
I & III 



Negative Intention 
II 



Positive Intention 
IV 



242 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Thus, system IV is more likely to accept some self-responsibility for 
the event; this does not mean that system IV operation always leads to 
acceptance of responsibility for every event but that when circum- 
stances are appropriate for the person accepting responsibility for the 
event, such an interpretation would likely be associated with system 
IV. Both attribution of positive intent and acceptance of responsibility 
may also occur to a lesser extent in system III. Placement of the other 
system-specific maneuvers in the diagram is based on functioning char- 
acteristics described earlier in this chapter. 

Bruner, Goodnow, and Austins "Payoff Matrix" 

Bruner et al. (1956) have used the concept of the "payoff matrix" to 
illuminate some processes in concept attainment. If a person's judg- 
ments of an event are expressed in two categories and the event alter- 
natives also fall into two categories, the four cells generated become the 
outcomes. In the present framework these outcomes may be viewed as 
the forms of relatedness that a particular system is attempting to avoid 
or to maintain, while the decision alternatives involve the "choice" of 
interpretation or categorization. 

Outcome Values of Intention Attribution 

Source's Actual Orientation 

Subject's Malevolence Malevolence 

Interpretation Present Not Present 

Malevolence imputed (II) Outcome Protect self Lose friendship 
Malevolence denied (III) Outcome Injury to self Foster friendship 

If the subject imputes malevolence, he protects himself (keeps his 
guard up) while risking the loss of friendship. In system II such risk 
is not only accepted but the general, often erroneous, imputation of 
malevolence tends to insure against friendship and confirm the oppo- 
sitional orientation of the system. On the other hand if the subject 
denies malevolent intent ("He's just kidding"), the outcomes consist 
of exposure to injury versus possible facilitation of his relationship with 
the source. In system III, friendly, approving relations are so valued 
that the risk of injury through denial of actual malevolence is ignored. 
Failure to deal with actual malevolence may tend to reinforce the 
subject's dependent ties to other sources. 

In the discussion above, the denial of malevolent intent involved S 
saying, in essence, "He's kidding." This response may be compared 
with an interpretation of serious intent as follows: 



FUNCTIONING OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 



243 



Outcome Values of Perceived Seriousness of Intent 

Source's Actual Orientation 
Subject's Interpretation Kidding Serious 

Interpreted as kidding (III) Outcome Facilitate Subject misses 



friendship 



learning oppor- 
tunity 



Interpreted as serious (IV) Outcome 



Subject feels Information 

foolish (source acquired 
may be alien- 
ated — scornful 
or angry) 



The outcomes in this example are also system-specific. That is, in 
making the interpretation "He's kidding," one stands the chance of 
strengthening the relationship at the risk of possibly losing some infor- 
mation. On the other hand, to make a serious estimate of the source's 
intent opens the possibility of learning or acquiring information; al- 
though if "wrong," one may be judged a fool and perhaps alienate the 
source. 

The principal advantage in applying a "payoff matrix" to the system 
referents or interpretation lies in its providing a basis for conceptual- 
izing the relationship between system-specific interpretations and their 
potential outcomes under varying circumstances of veridicalitv. 

Having outlined in this chapter the system-specific areas of sensitiz- 
ation, the interpretive maneuvers, and the modes of behavioral expres- 
sion, we are now in a position to consider more specifically the inter- 
action of dispositional and situational factors in determining system 
functioning, which is described in the next chapter. 



8 Situational and 

Dispositional Determinants: 

Their Measurement 

and Effect 



What factors determine the operation of conceptual systems? We 
consider this question in the present chapter by viewing the operation 
of conceptual systems in a contemporaneous setting as determined 
jointly by situational and dispositional factors. This chapter continues 
at the contemporaneous level used in Chapter 7, but shifts the focus 
from the effects of system functioning to the determinants of system 
functioning. Situational determinants of contemporaneous functioning 
are identical to those training conditions described in Chapter 5. If the 
"system pull" in a given situation is viewed as a very short-term train- 
ing condition, these training conditions will serve as the basis for defining 
current situational determinants of system-specific functioning, which 
we consider in this chapter. Dispositional determinants of contempo- 
raneous functioning are viewed in terms of differing thresholds of acti- 
vation for the specific systems. Characteristics of system-specific func- 
tioning described in Chapter 7 therefore serve as the basis for 
developing dispositional measures, which are described shortly. Before 
turning to problems of situational and dispositional measurement, how- 
ever, we need to consider briefly the interactive nature of these situ- 
ational and dispositional factors. 

Role of Conceptual Systems in Coordinating 
Situational and Dispositional Factors 

A conceptual system in our view is a schema that provides the basis 
by which the individual relates to the environmental events he ex- 

244 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 



245 



periences. It describes, in part, how he will perceive and experience 
these events. Since situational and dispositional factors are viewed in 
the same logical fashion, the means of understanding their joint effect 
is "built in" to the characteristics of conceptual systems. Thus, we can- 
not consider the operation of a system without considering the inter- 
active effects of both the individual and the environment confronting 
him. If we wish to predict what response a person will make, or to 
specify the conditions necessary for him to make a particular response, 
we approach the questions by considering both the person and the 
conditions in system-relevant terms. Or we may wish to answer more 
practical questions such as "Which of the available environmental con- 
ditions will be most likely to facilitate the functioning of a given indi- 
vidual?" or "Which of several individuals will function most effectively 
in a given environmental condition?" Since response facilitation and 
effective functioning are viewed as resulting from system-specific con- 
firmation, we approach these questions in terms of the likelihood that 
confirmation or refutation will result from the individual-environment 
interaction. 

As we saw in the last chapter, once a conceptual system is activated, 
it determines how the event will be experienced (confirmation or 
refutation), and the nature of this experience will in turn determine 
what, if any, response will occur. The present task therefore is to 
specify in detail the factors that determine the likelihood that a par- 
ticular system or system-pattern will be activated. It is this likelihood 
of system activation that is viewed as jointlv dependent upon situational 
factors ( specified in terms of "pull" properties ) and dispositional factors 
( individual activation threshold for a particular system ) . The nature of 
these effects is summarized in Table 21. 



TABLE 21 

The Effects of Situational and Dispositional Factors in Contemporaneous 

System Activation 



Situational 
Factors 


Present situation 
(expressed in terms 
of "pull" for each 
system) 












x 




. 




Activation 
of system 




Response 
resolution 












Dispositional 
Factors 


Pres 

orga 
in te 
syst 


ent personality 
nization (expres 
rms of threshol 
Bin-activating cl 


sed 
d to 
es) 


X 









246 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

The model in Table 21, similar in many respects to a recent suggestion 
of Cronbach (1957), is intended to deal only with contemporaneous 
functioning. We assume that the individual's present personality organ- 
ization has evolved through various stages as a result of numerous past 
experiences as described by the developmental model presented in 
Chapters 4 and 5. However, we are here concerned with the effects of 
this personality organization interacting with present situational factors 
to determine system activation. In the last chapter we assumed system 
activation and considered the nature of functioning; in the present chap- 
ter we consider the determinants of system activation. 

In order to apply the model in Table 21, the general formulation — 
system activation = f (personality organization and situational "pull") 
— must be expressed in system-specific terms. Thus, when an individual 
whose personality organization shows nodal arrestation in system I is 
confronted by a situation high in system I "pull," the activation of sys- 
tem I is very likely. If this same individual were confronted by a situ- 
ation weak in system I "pull," system I activation would be less likely 
than in the first example. However, the likelihood in the second case 
is higher than it would be for the person not strongly disposed toward 
system I. Later in this chapter we consider circumstances in which the 
situational-dispositional combination is either congruent or incongruent 
with a particular system. 

It should be noted that to recognize the general principle that re- 
sponses are jointly determined by situational and dispositional effects 
is only the first step in achieving precise prediction of behavior. Many 
theorists have emphasized the dual importance of situational and dis- 
positional factors: Lewin's formula, Behavior = f (Person, Environ- 
ment), is one well-known example. However, the general nature of 
these formulations leaves unsettled the important problem of specify- 
ing the nature of the organism in a precise fashion. For us, this speci- 
fication takes the form of dimensionalizing the structural properties 
of systems, which are then treated as the major internal factors. Only 
when this is accomplished can we answer questions about what will 
occur when, say, a person nodally arrested at system I encounters a 
situation highly compelling for system IV. 

Operations for System-Specific 
Situational Induction 

The situational factors that will maximize a given system are essen- 
tially those that produce arrestation at a given stage (see Chapter 5). 
Thus, maximal "pull" occurs through reliable unilateral imposition, 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 247 

unreliable unilateral imposition, protective interdependent imposition, 
and informational interdependent imposition, for system I through IV, 
respectively. 

It should be possible to determine the "pull" profile of a particular 
situation by exposing large numbers of persons to it, noting the kinds 
of responses that occur, and categorizing these responses in terms of 
their system relevance. McClelland and his colleagues (1953), for 
example, have employed this type of procedure. It is important to note, 
however, that such investigations study only the "main effects" of 
situational or conditional manipulation and therefore are necessarilv 
gross because the results depend in part upon the nature of the sample. 
In studying only situational effects, the investigator implicitly assumes 
that he is dealing with "people-in-general," but his sample may have 
special characteristics that make his assumption invalid. 1 

In order to understand system-specific situational determinants it is 
helpful to consider some studies that employed certain situational 
pressures to induce system-specific functioning. These studies are re- 
viewed here not to validate the present theory, but only to suggest 
some possible operation for system-specific situational determinants 
in the present viewpoint. 

System I Induction 

System I is induced by reliable unilateral conditions. Several inves- 
tigations have been reported that illustrate such conditions. Perhaps 
most relevant is the work of Kelman (1956) who uses the concept 
"compliance" for one of three processes of conformity, which he defines 
as follows: 

Compliance can be said to occur when an individual conforms because he 
hopes to achieve a favorable effect from another person or group (Kelman, 
1956, p. 175). 

The process of compliance is induced by a source who has means- 
control over the subject and under conditions of limited choice behav- 
ior. The results of Kelman's experiment indicate that responses adopted 
through compliance are performed only under conditions of surveil- 
lance of the means-controlling source. Such surveillance by a means- 
controlling agent provides conditions similar to our concept of reliable 
unilateral training just as the resulting process of compliance appears 
similar to system I functioning. 

1 In addition, as recent work has shown (for example, Hardison and Purcell, 1939), 
situational-dispositional interactions may operate to obscure the "main effect" of 
the situational variable. 



248 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Jones and Thibaut (1958) have described three inferential sets, one 
of which, "situation-matching," appears to be similar to system I func- 
tioning as indicated in the following: 

When the perceiver decides that his goal in the interaction involves the 
application of social sanctions, presumably he becomes concerned with the 
appropriateness of the stimulus person's behavior in terms of the generalized 
norms which he considers to be applicable to the present behavior setting. 
Such a concern conditions the inference process in ways which we shall 
subsume under the label, situation matching set (Jones and Thibaut, 1958, 
p. 159). 

Since situation matching appears quite similar to system I func- 
tioning, the procedures for inducing this inferential set should be 
appropriate for inducing system I functioning. In one experiment, Jones 
and De Charms ( 1958 ) induced situation matching by instructions that 
request the subject to act as if he were a member of a legal court of 
inquiry. Note that such instructions emphasize the sensitization aspect 
in contrast to Kelman's method for inducing compliance that empha- 
sizes the behavioral expression associated with the process. 

Since system I functioning is associated with perceiving people in 
terms of stereotypes in order to minimize changes in structure, a study 
by Haire and Grunes ( 1950 ) is relevant in its implicit aim to induce 
stereotypic thinking. These authors presented to two subject groups a 
list of descriptive terms, each containing the phrases "goes to union 
meetings" and "works in a factory," which should evoke a culturally 
prescribed stereotype associated with a laborer. The list contained other 
descriptions that with one important exception were the same for both 
groups. One group received a list containing the word "intelligent," 
which would presumably be incongruent with the stereotype of a 
laborer, whereas the other group did not receive this word on the list. 
Interest centered upon the manner in which the incongruent description 
was dealt with as the subject wrote his impression of the person de- 
scribed. Certain maneuvers by the subjects appear to be very similar 
to system I-related interpretations: "straight-forward denial of the ex- 
istence of the disturbing element" (Haire and Grunes, 1950, p. 406). 
Some made statements such as "Intelligence not notable even though it 
is stated" or "He is intelligent but not too much so since he works in 
a factory" (Haire and Grunes, 1950, p. 407). Actually, this study pro- 
vided two conditions, one of which (the incongruent word list) called 
forth "into the open" the expression of stereotypic thinking thought to 
be associated with system I functioning. The responses to the other 
list may have been based just as much on stereotypy but no resolution 
of incongruent data was required, so that whatever tendency to stereo- 
typy existed in the subjects remained unrevealed. 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 249 

Another example of the induction of stereotypic thinking is noted 
in an experiment by Thibaut and Riecken ( 1955 ) who studied subjects' 
explanations for why another person (a confederate of either high or 
low status ) complied with S's request. They found that the high status 
person's response was accounted for in terms of "internal" reasons ( "He 
just wanted to anyway" ) whereas the low status person's response was 
seen in terms of "external" causation ("I forced him to") (examples 
from Thibaut and Riecken, 1955, p. 124). The status differentials in 
this study constitute one set of situational conditions that evoke the 
categorical, unilateral, authority-oriented responses that characterize 
system I. 

System II Induction 

System II is induced by unreliable unilateral conditions. For example, 
James and Rotter (1958), by instructions to their subjects, induced the 
perception that events in a card-guessing game were caused by chance. 
Such instructions, when compared with "skill" instructions, which pre- 
sumably induced a set favoring internal causation, led to more rapid 
extinction of expectancies following 100 per cent reinforcement. These 
chance instructions apparently call forth denial of responsibility, and 
thus provide an example of system II induction. 

In another study (Hunt, 1957), subjects imputed less malevolent 
motives to a hypothetical source of criticism if they were otherwise 
favorably disposed toward that source, and saw the criticism more 
malevolently motivated ( that is, increase in system II functioning ) when 
the source was already disliked. The less attractive the source of crit- 
icism, the more likely was the occurrence of system II-related inter- 
pretations (denial of responsibility, non-commitment, and imputation 
of malevolent intent ) . Also relevant is the early classic study by Murray 
(1933), which indicated that the attribution of malicious character- 
istics to figures in a picture increased considerably after the subjects 
had been exposed to a fear-producing experience. 

System III Induction 

System III is induced by protective interdependent conditions. In- 
duction of system III functioning as reflected by an increased use of 
denial of rejection is reported in a study by Schroder and Hunt ( 1959 ) . 
When asked to account for criticism occurring from an incompetent 
friend, the subjects were quite likely to respond by denying rejection, 
for example, "He's just fooling around." Our inference is that criticism 
from a liked-incompetent source induces system III functioning be- 
cause the friendship relationship is maximally threatened. Since to 
define the source as incompetent essentially rules out attributions 



250 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

based on potential information (validity of criticism), the likelihood 
that such criticism represents potential rejection is maximal. 

At a more general level the conformity process that Kelman ( 1956 ) 
calls "identification" appears to be similar to system III functioning in 
many respects: 

Identification can be said to occur when an individual conforms because 
he wants to establish or maintain a satisfying self-defining relationship to 
another person or group (Kelman, 1956, p. 175). 

The process of identification is induced by an attractive source, and 
Kelman's results suggest that responses adopted through identification 
are performed only when the subject's relationship to this attractive 
source is salient. Such induction of conformity by an attractive source 
is similar to protective interdependent training just as the resulting 
process of identification appears similar to system III functioning. 

Also similar to system III functioning is the inferential set, "value 
maintenance," which Jones and Thibaut define as concerning a sen- 
sitivity to "what is he doing to me or for me that makes me want to 
approach or avoid him" (Jones and Thibaut, 1958, p. 159). In its con- 
cern with source attractiveness, value maintenance seems quite similar 
to system III functioning. The value maintenance set is induced by in- 
structions, preceding S's listening to a tape recorded interview, to 
judge the person in terms of whether he is a "nice guy" or not ( Jones 
and De Charms, 1958). These instructions presumably induce the 
heightened sensitivity to attractiveness that is characteristic of system 
III functioning. The success of this induction is partially indicated by 
results of the Jones-De Charms study: although Ss in the value main- 
tenance induction condition heard the same recording ( a military per- 
son relating the circumstances of his becoming a prisoner of war) as 
did Ss in the situation matching induction (see earlier), Ss receiving 
value maintenance induction were more likely to consider whether the 
object of judgment was behaving as a likeable person rather than pay- 
ing attention to the offense he committed. 

The "group set" proposed by Thibaut and Strickland (1956) as well 
as the "normative influence" sugested by Deutsch and Gerard ( 1955 ) , 
both of which have been discussed earlier, are not only apparently 
similar to each other but also both provide potential operations for 
inducing system III functioning. 

System IV Induction 

System IV is induced by informational interdependent conditions. For 
example, Kelman's description of the induction of internalization ( 1956 ) 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 251 

is quite similar to operations assumed necessary for system IV func- 
tioning ( cf . p. 239 ) . He describes the antecedents of the internalization 
process as a communication from a highly credible source under con- 
ditions in which S is reorganizing his cognitive field. These conditions 
are very similar to the sensitization to source competence and willing- 
ness to modify standards in the face of new information noted in system 
IV. Kelman found that responses adopted through internalization are 
performed only when relevant to content, and will extinguish when no 
longer seen as useful. 

Deutsch and Gerard (1955) describe informational influence in 
similar terms: ". . . an influence to accept information obtained from 
another as evidence of reality" (Deutsch and Gerard, 1955, p. 629). 
Task set, as described by Thibaut and Strickland (1956), also appears 
related: ". . . disposed to view others as 'mediators' of fact" (Thibaut 
and Strickland, 1956, p. 115). Therefore, the procedures for inducing 
informational influence or task set should serve as operations for in- 
ducing system IV functioning. 

Measurement of System-Specific 
Dispositional Determinants 

Assuming that the logic of measurement must flow from the logic of 
the theory (cf. Jessor and Hammond, 1957), we outline briefly some 
principles and procedures for dispositional measurement. In formulat- 
ing these principles we rely on both characteristics of system function- 
ing (Chapters 3 and 7) and the dimensions of system organization 
(Chapters 2 and 6). Therefore, referents for dispositional tendencies 
may be obtained through both functioning characteristics (nature of 
sensitization) and structural characteristics (degree of abstractness ) . 
Thus, a person may be classified as disposed toward system IV function- 
ing by his sensitization to information or by the abstract nature of his 
functioning. 

In the present view, intensive personality measurement requires 
describing the person in relation to each of the dimensions of person- 
ality set forth in Chapter 6: degree of abstractness, degree of openness 
to progression, and degree of directness of behavioral expression. For 
some purposes, such as the modification of conceptual systems (see 
Chapter 10 ) , it is important to make quite precise measurement of the 
nature of each of these dimensions. Most investigations of personality 
factors, however, have utilized rather gross measurement, which could 
be viewed in present terms as classifying persons into one or another of 
the four generic systems. The degree of specificity of measurement re- 



252 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

quired therefore depends upon the problem. Our immediate goal in 
this section is to derive means of measuring the dispositional tendencies 
toward system activation as indicated in Table 21. Therefore, we shall 
limit for the present the aim of dispositional measurement to the clas- 
sification of persons into one of four categories: dispositions toward sys- 
tems I, II, III, or IV. The principles and procedures to be described, 
however, should also be applicable to the more specific purposes such 
as classifying persons in terms of degree of transitional conflict. 

Some Principles of Dispositional Measurement 

Aspects of both system functioning and system structure are con- 
sidered as potential sources of referents for dispositional tendencies. 
The following functioning characteristics may be used: sensitization, 
interpretation, behavior, and affective arousal. In addition, dispo- 
sitional indicators may be obtained through assessing structural or 
organizational characteristics, for example, degree of abstractness. 
The operations for assessing these indicators of system-specific dis- 
positional tendencies may be summarized as follows: 

1. The presentation of controlled system-specific stimuli to subjects, the 
nature of the response indicating individual differences in sensitization 
to the system represented by the stimuli; 

2. The presentation of relatively ambiguous stimuli, differences in inter- 
pretation serving to reflect the subject's systemic disposition; 

3. The presentation and manipulation of system-relevant stimuli in a sit- 
uation that requires some action or conflict-resolving behavior; 

4. The presentation of stimuli, some of which are specifically relevant to 
one system, some to another, noting which leads to affective arousal; 

5. The presentation of stimuli on a given dimension, the number or range 
of concepts generated indicating degree of abstractness. 

SENSITIZATION 

As a first principle we may restate a point made in Chapter 3: in 
order to infer the degree of sensitization it is necessary to observe re- 
sponses to controlled stimuli. These stimuli must be ordered along a 
dimension specific to the system indicated in Table 18, on p. 206; for 
example, if system I is involved, the dimension extends from "agreement 
with external standards" to "violations of standards" or from culturally- 
derived power to the other extreme. Three general methods of measur- 
ing sensitization may be considered : ( a ) detection of a particular stim- 
ulus object at a lower level of stimulus intensity, ( b ) degree of variation 
in response as a function of stimulus variation, and ( c ) degree to which 
response is determined by one dimension rather than another when 
competing stimulus dimensions are presented. 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 253 

Detection at lower level of stimulus intensity. For example, system- 
specific sensitization may be inferred by a lowered threshold to sys- 
tem-relevant stimuli. The study by Atkinson and Walker (1956) de- 
scribed earlier presented system-relevant stimuli, that is, the human 
face in this case, at subthreshold levels. S's detection of the face (by 
indicating in which one of the four quadrants it appeared) provided 
the sensitization index, which in this case related to need for affiliation. 
McClelland and Liberman ( 1949 ) have utilized a similar procedure for 
obtaining indicators of need for achievement. 

Degree of variation in response as function of stimulus variation. If 
the person's response varies more as a function of system-relevant stim- 
uli, system-specific sensitization can be inferred. This variation may 
consist of either increased or decreased response intensity indicating 
vigilance and defense, respectively. In other words, either negative or 
positive (but not zero-order) correlations of response intensity and 
stimulus intensity reflect sensitivity to the system. This method is 
similar to the procedure described in Chapter 3 for measuring the 
degree of response intensity at a higher level of stimulus intensity. How- 
over, in the present case, contrasting intensities of system-relevant 
stimuli are used to elicit variations in response. For example, the study 
by Roberts and Jessor (1958) described earlier indicates that persons 
disposed toward system I are more aggressive to low status persons, but 
less aggressive to high status persons than are "people-in-general." 
Although these authors did not use a sensitization form of analysis, it 
appears that the correlation between response (aggression) and stim- 
ulus dimension (status of frustrating source) was higher in persons 
disposed toward system I than in others. However, in order to establish 
such a relationship clearly it would be necessary to analyze differences 
in response between situations for each individual because sensitization 
is by definition an intraindividual process. Sensitization cannot be in- 
ferred solely on the basis of differences between mean group scores; 
intraindividual analysis is required. 

A more precise example of this procedure is found in a study by 
Schroder and Hunt ( 1958 ) . In this study, Ss were asked to account for 
criticism from sources that varied in attractiveness (liked-disliked). 
Some interpretations of the criticism consisted of self-negation ("This 
means I am doing poorly"), indicating acceptance of the criticism as 
valid. Since people generally are more likely to accept criticism from 
someone they like, the postcriticism self-negation score will ordinarily 
vary directly with the attractiveness of the source. However, the more a 
subject's acceptance of criticism is related to source attractiveness, the 
greater is the sensitivity to this variable. In this case the correlation be- 



254 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

tween self -negation and attractiveness of criticizing source is an indi- 
cator of sensitivity to system III (mutuality) cues. From this sensitivity 
index we can, in turn, infer disposition to system III functioning. 

Another study ( Hunt and Schroder, 1957 ) explored the relationship 
between subjects' perceived self-competence ( in a skill area ) and their 
self-evaluation following criticism. Differences in how well subjects 
accepted the view "I lack skill in this area and therefore should learn 
from criticism" provided an index of system IV sensitization. The ab- 
sence of such sensitization was found to be associated with school 
underachievement. 

These three studies illustrate the way in which the dependence of 
response on system-specific stimulus intensities can be used as a basis 
for a sensitization index by which dispositional tendencies are, in turn, 
inferred. 

Degree to which response is determined by one dimension rather 
than another when competing stimulus dimensions are presented. If 
the person, who is confronted by a stimulus complex consisting of cues 
for more than one system relevant dimension, responds on the basis of 
one stimulus, system-specific sensitization can be inferred. Of course, 
his response may reflect the net effect of all cues rather than being over- 
determined by one. This method is particularly appropriate when the 
purpose is that of distinguishing between two system-specific forms of 
sensitization. For example, Hunt and Schroder ( 1959 ) used a variation 
of Role Concept Repertory Test (Kelly, 1955) to tap differential sys- 
tem-specific sensitizations (see pp. 263-4). Ss were asked to state which 
two persons ( of a three-person group ) are most alike and different from 
the third, using for this comparison one of two predetermined system- 
specific dimensions. The task was repeated many times (offering S 
new three-person groups to categorize). Greater reliance by a subject 
upon one system-specific dimension was taken as an indicator of greater 
centrality of that particular system. 

In considering this method it might be noted that there is a close 
relationship between stimulus configurations that consist of potentially 
competing dimensions and ambiguous stimuli. Viewed from the present 
position, the use of ambiguous stimuli as in some projective tests may 
permit sensitization inferences on the basis of a rationale very similar 
to that underlying the person's selecting one out of many competing 
dimensions as the determiner of his response ( cf . interpretation below ) . 
The chief difference lies in the greater control over the system-specific 
stimulus intensity afforded by the use of competing dimensions. 

One final comment on the measurement of sensitization: all of the 
illustrative procedures described above employed hypothetical stimuli 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 255 

or representation of actual stimuli. Although such a procedure has 
drawbacks, it also has two major advantages : first, it provides for more 
careful control of the stimuli; and second, it decreases the likelihood of 
sequence effects that might occur if the person were responding to 
actual stimuli. We have not as yet developed procedures for measuring 
sensitization in actual interpersonal situations, but this, though more 
difficult, will eventually be necessary. Our present procedures permit 
a simpler manipulation of system-relevant cues. 

INTERPRETATION 

The principle that a human response will be more heavily 
determined by internal factors when the external factors are 
ambiguous is well known (Sherif, 1935; Lazarus, 1953; Rotter, 1954). 
This is the implicit basis for many projective tests such as the Rorschach 
and the TAT. In our terms, when an individual's interpretive maneu- 
vers are made with reference to a relatively ambiguous situation they 
will carry more dispositional information. Relying on this principle, 
numerous measures have utilized subjects' interpretations of a rela- 
tively ambiguous interpersonal stimulus to infer personality disposi- 
tion (Sargent, 1944; Sherriffs, 1948; French, 1958a; Schroder and Hunt, 
1957; Moeller and Applezweig, 1957). This principle also provides the 
rationale for the psychoanalyst's interpretation of the patient's trans- 
ference manifestations, since these reactions presumably stem from an 
ambiguous stimulus. 

In order to elicit meaningful dispositional information in the present 
view, however, the stimulus must also imply some potential refutation 
to most persons (system-specific interpretation occurs only when the 
system is activated). The general method is simply to confront the 
subject with a potentially refuting stimulus, asking him to account for 
or "explain" the event: the underlying system of organization is then 
inferred on the basis of the system-specific interpretations summarized 
in Table 20 on p. 240. The stimulus might hypothetically consist of a 
highly generalized event, "Suppose that something goes wrong." How- 
ever, in practice, stimuli consisting of verbal disagreement or criticism 
have frequently been employed on the assumption that such a situ- 
ation maximizes the occurrence of at least some potential refutation in 
each system. We discuss one form of the situational interpretation 
measure in more detail later in this chapter. 

The nature of the interpretive process may also set limits on the 
appropriateness of the measure. For example, if we wish to measure a 
person's tendency to use the interpretive maneuver of neutralization 
or negation, a structured measure would probably not be appropriate. 



256 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Although a person may say or write "It's not my fault" if he is expressing 
himself in his own words, he is less likely to endorse a fixed alternative 
such as "It's not my fault" on a forced-choice test. In any case, in de- 
signing measures it is important to bear in mind that the measuring 
instrument should be appropriate to the variable it is intended to assess. 

BEHAVIOR 

Although it has been customary to think of behavioral resolutions in 
such terms as a "predicted response," a dependent variable, or criterion, 
there is no logical reason that, such responses cannot serve as dispo- 
sitional indicators. The major problem lies in specifying precisely a 
one-to-one relation between a particular behavioral resolution and a 
particular pattern of system operation, a difficulty we discussed earlier 
in a more general context. When we observe behavioral resolutions to 
refutation, we are dealing with the direct effects of system functioning, 
and therefore the observer must note very carefully the exact nature of 
the situation and the effect upon this situation produced by the par- 
ticular behavior. Put another way, a particular system-specific behav- 
ior may occur very rapidly, producing a change in the situation so that 
subsequent behavior may be in response to a different situation. Sys- 
tem-specific behavioral resolutions were summarized in Table 20 on 
p. 240, and are discussed in greater detail later in this chapter. 

AFFECTIVE AROUSAL 

Affective arousal has been considered primarily as an inter- 
vening process, but there are ways by which it can provide a 
means either to preselect persons or to verify certain system-specific 
hypotheses. One procedure, for example, is to present stimuli in a 
manner similar to that described in the sensitization section and meas- 
ure the intensity of affective responses (pulse, blood pressure, and 
PGR). The rationale is identical: intensity of affective response to sys- 
tem-relevant stimuli indicates disposition toward that particular system. 

A study by Vogel, Raymond, and Lazarus (1959) yeilded results 
relevant to our consideration of affective arousal. These authors pre- 
selected Ss who consistently (on a number of dispositional measures) 
showed a strong orientation toward achievement or social affiliation. 
Both groups of Ss were then exposed to achievement and affiliation 
stressors during which various measures of autonomic reaction were 
obtained (pulse rate, blood pressure, PGR). Maximum autonomic 
arousal was found to occur when the stressor was in the same area as 
the stronger motivation. We interpret these results as evidence that 
affective arousal is maximal when the threat is to the more central 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 257 

system. The study itself may be considered a prototype for the study 
of the interactive effects of situational-dispositional factors. In addition, 
such measures of susceptibility or arousal to system-specific stimuli may 
themselves serve as an additional means for dispositional measurement. 
For example, the design of the Vogel et al. study might be reversed, 
first selecting Ss according to differential autonomic response to the 
two types of stressors, using these differences to predict other indices of 
achievement- or affiliation-oriented behavior. As noted earlier, it would 
be very helpful also to have measures of the quality of affect, since this, 
too, should vary between systems, but satisfactory measures are not 
presently available. 

CONCRETENESS-ABSTRACTNESS AND OTHER 
STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS 

Since concreteness-abstractness is the major structural dimension 
underlying the present systems, methods that measure degree of ab- 
stractness will also provide relevant information for dispositional classi- 
fication. The methods based on functioning characteristics of systems 
that we have just described provide information in discontinuous terms 
( disposition toward one or another of four systems ) . In contrast, meas- 
ures of abstractness yield information in continuous terms (degree of 
abstractness), which is less precise for purposes of dispositional classi- 
fication. Put another way, the system-specific equivalence of variation 
in abstractness is only grossly understood ( the more abstract the struc- 
ture, the more likely the disposition toward system III or IV) so that 
the transformation of information about a given S's degree of abstract- 
ness into system-specific dispositional indicators is accordingly limited. 
Measures of abstractness will become increasingly useful, therefore, as 
their systemic equivalence is clarified, and investigations to clarify 
this relationship are now being conducted by the authors. For present 
purposes, however, we shall describe some procedures that illustrate 
appropriate methods for obtaining indicators of degree of abstractness. 

Goldstein and Scheerer (1941) have developed several tests for 
measuring degree of abstractness (based on the characteristics of 
abstractness that we described in Chapter 2), which are relevant for 
present purposes, for example, object sorting test. More recently, Mc- 
Gaughran (1954) proposed that the concrete-abstract dimension be 
separated into two independent subdimensions: open versus closed and 
private versus public. The measures he developed on the basis of this 
distinction, especially the open-closed dimension, are also relevant to the 
present aim. 

One operation for abstractness probably is the number and integra- 



258 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

tion of concepts generated from a set of stimuli. Therefore, a procedure 
described by Bieri and Blacker (1956) for measuring "cognitive com- 
plexity" is relevant. Their method consists of E's instruction for S to 
write the names of six persons who meet certain descriptions, for ex- 
ample, closest girl friend or successful person, which is followed by E's 
presenting these names in groups of three to S to be sorted. As these 
authors put it: 

In all, 20 sorts were thus obtained, with a perception of similarity and 
its opposite being obtained on each sort. Essentially, then, S was confronted 
with a task in which he was asked to perceive a fixed number of stimuli in 
different combinations. The complexity of S's perceptions of others was 
measured in terms of the number of different perceptions . . . (Bieri and 
Blacker, 1956, pp. 113-114). 

In present terms, the complexity of perceptions should provide an 
indicator of degree of abstractness. 

Another operation for abstractness, we assume, is a higher degree of 
articulation between oneself and the environment, or as we have im- 
plied earlier in using Witkin's (1954) term, a greater "field independ- 
ence." The present relevance of measures employed by Witkin et al. 
(1954), for example, embedded figures test, is determined by the rela- 
tionship between the dimension of field dependence-independence and 
degree of abstractness. Although a very general relationship exists be- 
tween independence and abstractness, the specific relationship is more 
complex because we assume that field dependence may occur at either 
a concrete (system I) or abstract (system III) stage, and that field in- 
dependence may also occur at either a concrete ( system II ) or abstract 
(system IV) stage. Before measures of field dependence-independence 
can be used as system-specific indicators, therefore, we will need 
empirical information related to this assumption. 

A study by Rudin and Stagner (1958) is relevant here in that it 
investigated the relationship between field independence (embedded 
figures test) and "personal contextual influence" (degree to which S's 
judgment of a given person varied according to the context, or back- 
ground, in which the person was being judged). Field dependence in 
dealing with the non-social embedded figures was associated with 
reliance upon context and background in judging social stimuli. In 
addition, persons high on the F scale (system I) relied more upon 
background or context in both situations than did other groups, sup- 
porting the concrete, field dependent nature of system I functioning. 
Items on the F scale are based in part on the nature of structural 
characteristics, in this case, the tendency to make categorical, "black- 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 259 

white" judgments. Although the content of F-scale items is itself rel- 
evant to system I functioning since many items are phrased in "ought" 
or "should" terms, it may be that S's mode of responding in obtaining 
a high score is an even more important indicator of system I functioning. 
The authors of the F scale were aware of this overdetermination of 
response; more recently several authors have distinguished between 
the content and style factors on the F scale (Chapman and Bock, 1958; 
Jackson and Messick, 1958). It should be possible to capitalize on 
stylistic modes based on structural characteristics of other systems as 
well (cf. Taylor, 1960). For example, a consistent "non-acquiescent" 
response set may indicate a disposition to system II. 

We have seen that system-specific disposition may be inferred on the 
basis of both functional and structural characteristics. We view the 
methods based on system functioning, such as sensitization, and those 
just described based on system structure, such as degree of abstract- 
ness, as means to approach the same problem. Thus, an increase in 
abstractness (structure) should parallel sensitization changing from 
I to II, III, and IV (function). Rather than treat "cognitive" factors 
and "dynamic" or personality factors separately, therefore, we view 
them as structural and functional characteristics, respectively, which 
are interrelated aspects of conceptual systems. 

The Importance of Multiple Measurement 

Much current psychological experimentation, expecially investigation 
of dispositional effects, places undue reliance on a single measure or 
test. In contrast, the value of using multiple measurement, whenever 
possible, has been recently argued in diverse areas of investigation 
(Miller, 1956; Oppenheimer, 1956; Campbell and Fiske, 1959). We 
concur with these authors in advocating multiple measurement, which, 
in present terms, consists of obtaining referents from different systemic 
characteristics, for example, sensitization, interpretation, degree of 
abstractness, because of the numerous advantages. First, such pro- 
cedures permit us to "learn more about" the phenomenon in question. 
Although the measures we employ should be as theory-relevant as 
possible, the use of multiple measurement also provides for corrective 
feedback in the formulation (through, for example, the absence of 
expected correlations, or unexpected correlations, between measures). 
Second, multiple measurement is congruent with the definition of a 
concept or a system consisting of at least two points in space or time. 
Third, and most important, such procedures increase the certainty 
with which we make dispositional classification. We can feel more cer- 



260 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

tain that a person is disposed toward system II, for example, if we have 
noted system II referents from multiple measures than if based on only 
one measure. 

Another factor that affects certainty of dispositional classification 
within any single measure is the extent to which the referent is a "pure" 
reflection of one system. There is rarely a perfect one-to-one corre- 
spondence between response and internal factor, but some responses 
are more construct-relevant than others. Tomkins and Miner (1957), 
for example, have indicated that one characteristic of a test referent is 
its diffuseness or non-diffuseness, terms that we infer reflect the accuracy 
with which one can specify the determinants of test behavior. Put in 
present terms, every response is assumed to emanate in part from the 
operation of systems or internal factors. However, knowledge is sparse 
concerning how well our proposals about the nature of systems fit the 
detailed behavioral facts of life; empirical studies must eventually 
provide the basis for increasingly detailed system descriptions and 
greater predictive precision. For now we can only estimate the most 
likely dispositional pattern present, realizing that error attributable 
both to measurement and conceptualization will occur. 

System-Specific Characteristics as a 
Basis for Dispositional Measurement: 
A Working Example 

In order to apply the previous principles, the measurement must 
always occur in relation to system-specific areas of sensitization and 
resolutions. Table 18 on p. 206 and Table 20 on p. 240 in Chapter 7 
provide the working basis for the development of system-specific 
measures. Let us consider in some detail an investigation (Hunt and 
Schroder, 1959) that used a variety of means to assess dispositional 
tendencies in three of the systems (system I was not included in this 
particular study). In our discussion of this investigation, many of the 
principles and procedures just described are illustrated as we describe 
measurement techniques in context, as tools that serve as the means 
toward increasing conceptual understanding, rather than as ends in 
themselves. Because this investigation focused on the interrelations 
among system-specific interpretive maneuvers, behavioral resolutions, 
and areas of sensitization, it also illustrates the importance of multiple 
measurement. 

The first phase investigated the relationship between interpretive 
maneuvers and behavioral resolutions in systems II, III, and IV. Viewed 
in terms of Table 20, the logic of methodology was quite straightfor- 
ward. A paper-and-pencil measure eliciting interpretations of incon- 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 261 

gruent situations was administered, and the attributive responses of 
the persons (approximately 100 high school boys) were categorized 
according to Table 20 on p. 240. Ss were classified into dispositional 
groups of systems II, III, or IV, or into a general unclassified category. 
All persons were then exposed to differing forms of system-specific 
social influence. Their reactions to this situational pressure were cat- 
egorized in terms of system-specific behavioral resolutions, thus pro- 
viding a second, separate classification of the same persons into group- 
ings of systems II, III, IV, or not relevant. We now have both an 
interpretation and a behavior measure. Therefore, if the analysis in- 
dicates that the persons are classified into the same system by these two 
measured aspects of system operation, the construct validity of the 
present viewpoint is affirmed and the utility of the measures supported. 
We have intentionally avoided describing this phase of the investi- 
gation in terms of a predictor (the interpretation measure) and a 
criterion (the behavioral resolution) because such a distinction rests 
only on arbitrary time sequences. Since the classification of persons 
into dispositional groups may be accomplished as logically from ref- 
erents based upon behavior in a controlled experiment as on the basis 
of a paper-and-pencil measure, the order in which the two sets of 
referents are obtained is unimportant from a theoretical standpoint. Let 
us briefly consider the methods employed in this phase of the investi- 
gation and the results observed. 

INTERPRETATION MEASURE 

In order to evoke a sample of interpretations to situations of potential 
refutation, a paper-and-pencil measure that confronted S with several 
situations of hypothetical verbal criticism or disagreement was em- 
ployed (one form of the situational interpretation measure referred to 
in Chapter 7). As suggested earlier, the logic underlying this measure 
emphasizes the importance of confronting every person with incon- 
gruity in order that his mode of accounting for its occurrence will be 
dispositionally relevant and can therefore be considered a system- 
specific interpretive maneuver (see Schroder and Hunt, 1959, for a 
more extensive discussion of the rationale and description of materials ) . 

Every S then wrote down his interpretation of eight situations of 
verbal disagreement; these interpretations were coded by use of a 
manual that was nothing more than a specific version of the interpretive 
maneuvers in Table 20 on p. 240. For example, if a person repeatedly 
interpreted the various situations in terms of malevolent imputation 
("He's trying to give me a hard time"), he was classified in the system 
II group. A person who continually interpreted events in terms of, 



262 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

say, denial of rejection ("He was just fooling around and didn't mean it 
because we're the best of friends") was classified in the system III 
group. Persons who made most of their interpretations along infor- 
mational lines ("He wants to show me my mistake so I can improve") 
were placed in the system IV group. Two forms of the interpretation 
measure were administered. In one S wrote down the interpretation 
in his own words ( free response form ) and in the other S selected be- 
tween pairs of alternatives designed to represent paradigm statements 
of system-specific interpretive maneuvers (forced choice form). The 
basis for using both approaches was to obtain a more stable set of 
referents for classifying persons into dispositional groups. 

BEHAVIORAL MEASURE 

All Ss were exposed to various forms of social influence in a con- 
formity experiment. Their responses were categorized as: (1) yielding, 
(2) non-yielding, and (3) "moving away" ("boomerang") from a 
previously held standard in a direction opposite that of the influence. 
The occurrence of yielding was considered in relation to two forms of 
pressure: (1) normative and (2) informational. Once categorized, 
those responses were transformed according to the relevant system- 
specific behavioral resolutions in Table 20 as representing systems II, 
III, IV, or unclassified. Persons making an unusual number of "boom- 
erang" responses (recoiling from influence) were classified in system II; 
persons yielding only to normative influence were classified in system 
III; and persons yielding only to informational influence were classi- 
fied in system IV. 

SYSTEM-SPECIFIC RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN 
INTERPRETATION AND BEHAVIOR 

In order to test the relationship between the two measures, only the 
thirty-four Ss who were classified in one of the three system groupings 
on both the forced-choice interpretation and the behavioral measures 
were considered. The analysis indicated a significant overall tendency 
for system-specific behavioral and interpretive groupings to be as- 
sociated, as well as a significant relationship between behavioral and 
interpretive referents for each of the three specific systems. The re- 
lationship, however, was not perfect, which probably reflects, among 
other possibilities, the error of measurement in each of the techniques. 
In an additional analysis aimed to define more "pure" groups, Ss were 
categorized in a dispositional group only if their score on both the 
forced-choice and free-response measure was in the same system. Al- 
though the number of persons categorized on this more rigorous basis 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 263 

decreased to nine, all nine persons were correctly classified in terms 
of the expected system-specific behavioral resolution. 

The next phase of the investigation extended the study of those 
relationships to system-specific areas of sensitization. The combined 
measures used in the first phase — forced-choice interpretation, free- 
response interpretation, and behavioral resolution measures — were 
employed to define dispositional groups by requiring that a person be 
classified in any group on the basis of at least two of the three referent 
measures. The system-specific sensitization of these persons was then 
observed as described below. 

SENSITIZATION MEASURE 

This phase was designed to investigate the extent of system-specific 
sensitization to the following interpersonal dimensions: 

System II — imposition of restriction 

System III — source attractiveness 

System IV — source competence (information potential) 
It was hypothesized that system-specific sensitization would render the 
individual more open to certain dimensions than to other less 
relevant dimensions. For example, if a person disposed toward system 
II is confronted by a stimulus person embodying both restriction (pos- 
itive or negative) and information (positive or negative), he should be 
more sensitive, or alert, to the potential restriction. On the basis of 
this expectation, if he were requested to categorize this person, he 
should be more likely to utilize the potential restriction as a basis for 
categorizing than to use the less personally relevant dimension, infor- 
mation. A variation of the Kelly Role Concept Repertory Test (1955) 
was therefore employed in which S was confronted by names of three 
persons that were to be grouped. Each triad was so arranged that it 
could be sorted on the basis of either one of two system-specific di- 
mensions; the dimension that each S chose was taken as evidence of 
his sensitization to that particular dimension. 

Two studies were carried out, one comparing system II with system 
IV Ss, and one comparing system III with system IV Ss. In the first 
study, S wrote down the names of twelve persons he knew who fit 
various descriptions supplied by the experimenter. These descriptions 
varied both information potential (assumed to be relevant to system 
IV) and restricting potential (assumed relevant to system II), for ex- 
ample, "A boy who knows what he is talking about, but who makes you 
feel uncomfortable." Next, the names of three of these people were 
exposed to S, and he was asked to indicate, "which two of these people 
are alike and different from the third." The triads were so arranged 



264 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

TABLE 22 

Interrelations of Sensitization, Interpretation, and Behavior 

Area of Interpretive . . 

System •*_■ *.- „ Behavior Resolutions 

1 Sensitization Maneuvers 

II Potential restric- Imputation of "Boomerang" to social in- 

tion malevolence fluence 

III Source attractive- Denial of rejection Yield to normative social 
ness influence 

IV Source competence Reaffirmation of Yield to informational so- 

concern with infor- cial influence 
mation 

that one grouping would indicate sorting on the basis of restriction ( and 
thus be relevant to system II) whereas another grouping would rep- 
resent sorting on the basis of information potential (system IV sensi- 
tization). Sensitization indices based on several sortings were ac- 
cordingly derived (each sorting permitted either grouping relevant 
to system II or system IV). A second study, identical in design, com- 
pared system IV with system III Ss, the system III dimension being 
represented by source attractiveness ("A boy whom you would like 
to know better"). 

SYSTEM-SPECIFIC RELATIONSHIPS 
TO SENSITIZATION 

Both sensitization studies indicated significant relationships between 
system-specific sensitization and groups defined on the basis of inter- 
pretation and behavior. We are inclined to interpret these results as 
support for the construct validity of the present three systems, as 
outlined in Table 22. 

Although system I was not explored in this particular study, such an 
investigation could easily be carried out using the system I character- 
istics described in Chapter 7. From the logic of construct validity we 
may note that the positive findings in these studies support the use of 
the present measures, which provided referents for the relationships 
observed. We have considered this investigation in some detail because 
it provides an illustration of some measures that we feel are appropriate 
to the present viewpoint. It is very likely that these measures could be 
considerably improved, or better ones devised, if the experiments were 
repeated. We re-emphasize that these measures are not the only tests to 
be used in the present viewpoint; as we have noted earlier, many other 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 265 

alternative methods of measurement are open. What is important, how- 
ever, is to note that these results emphasize the effectiveness of multiple 
measurement whenever possible. Before proceeding, one aspect of this 
investigation, which applies to most of the studies described in the 
next section, should be noted: only male high school subjects were 
employed. Although we assume that the present systems apply equally 
to males and females, the behavioral expression specific to a particular 
stage of development or more closed system probably differs consider- 
ably. 

Response to Social Incongruity as Determined by 
Situational and Dispositional Factors 

To illustrate the role of system operation in determining responses 
we consider selected investigations that are presently viewed as study- 
ing system-specific effects in reaction to social influence or incongruity. 
The design of each investigation to be described includes variations 
in both situational and dispositional factors. Viewed in terms of Table 
21, if both situation and disposition favor the same specific system, the 
resulting response should occur on the basis of that particular system. 
Most of the investigations rest on predictions of a significant interaction 
between situation and disposition. System activation is therefore ex- 
pected to occur as an interactive function of system-specific situational 
and dispositional factors, and the resulting response to social influence 
(behavioral resolution) in turn should therefore emanate from the 
particular system activated. The emphasis is upon the differential effects 
attributable to systems. 

A critical point in each investigation is the accurate specification of 
the relationship between system activation and the nature of response. 
For example, the activation of one system may result in yielding to in- 
fluence whereas the activation of a different system may result in re- 
coiling from influence as we noted in the last section. Positive results 
therefore depend upon both the occurrence of predicted interactive 
effect producing system activation and the expected relationship be- 
tween system activation and response resolution. 

We have selected experiments involving social influence or inter- 
personal disagreement partly because these experimental situations pro- 
vide maximal potential refutation for all systems and also provide 
a wealth of response possibilities in addition to that of yielding. The 
major basis for citing social influence studies however is that the authors 
have worked in this area. These studies are grouped for review under 
headings that describe the major situational variations under discussion. 



266 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

System-Specific Response Modification 
As a Function of Influencing Source 

Berkowitz and Lundy (1957) studied the differential susceptibility 
to influence from peer sources and authority sources ( Army generals ) . 
They found that Ss disposed toward system I (high F scale) were more 
susceptible to influence from authority figures than were others. 

Wilson (1960) used a situational interpretation measure to define 
a system III group and a system IV group. He then compared their 
change in attitude in response to influencing communications conveyed 
by attractive and unattractive sources. He found that although system 
III Ss yielded significantly more than system IV Ss when the influence 
came from a liked source, they yielded significantly less than system IV 
Ss when the influence came from disliked sources. This investigation 
therefore provides behavioral corroboration for the hypothesized sen- 
sitization of svstem III Ss to source attractiveness. 

System-Specific Response Modification As 
a Function of the Influence Procedure 

McClintock ( 1958 ) compared the difference in attitude change pro- 
duced in Ss disposed toward system I (high F scale) and Ss disposed 
toward system III (an "other-directed" subscale of the F scale) in 
response to two forms of influence: ethnocentric and normative. His 
findings that system I Ss are more susceptible to ethnocentric influence 
whereas system III Ss are more susceptible to normative influence 
indicate the svstem-specific effect of the two influence procedures. 

When the normative-informational distinction suggested by Deutsch 
and Gerard ( 1955 ) is employed to describe variations in influence 
procedures, several studies have noted that Ss disposed to system III 
are more susceptible to normative influence whereas Ss disposed to 
system IV are more susceptible to informational influence (Schroder 
and Hunt, 1958; Hunt and Schroder, 1959; McDavid, 1959). 

System-Specific Generalization and 
Extinction of Modified Response 

In addition to their hypothesized role in determining the conditions 
under which response modification will occur, the present systems 
should also affect the maintenance, generalization, and extinction of 
modified responses under varying conditions. More specifically, if 
response modification occurs in system III, for example, we would ex- 
pect such a change to persist as long as the attractive influencing source 
continues to be present (cf. Kelman, 1956), since response change 
mediated by system III is maintained and generalized to other stimuli 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 267 

when the situation remains the same. A study by Schroder and Janicki 
( 1959b ) supports this expectation. Observing the postinfluence effects 
upon modified responses they found that the system III group (defined 
by a situational interpretation measure) not only manifested greater 
generalization in time (that is, less extinction) than two other system 
groups (II and IV), but the system III group also manifested greater 
generalization in space (that is, change in influenced response extended 
to uninfluenced responses). Their findings suggest in addition that 
system-specific generalization over time is quite similar to system- 
specific generalization through space. Not only are the system III 
group curves of generalization in both space and time significantly 
different from the respective generalization curves of the other two 
system groups studied, but also the generalization curve of the system 
III group over time (maintenance of the influenced response during 
extinction trials) is remarkably similar in form to the generalization 
curve of the system III group in space (effect upon uninfluenced 
responses of decreasing similarity to the influenced response). 

Also, as noted earlier, Harvey ( 1959 ) has observed a similar tend- 
ency of a system I group (high F scale) toward overgeneralization of 
influenced response. 

System-Specific Maneuvers Preventing Response 
Modification 

Because system I Ss are highly resistant to changing their evaluation 
of themselves, we would expect that when confronted by derogatory 
comments, system I Ss will utilize various maintenance mechanisms 
such as distortion and dissociation to prevent self-change. As described 
earlier, Harvey (1959) found such a heightened incidence of disso- 
ciation and distortion in Ss disposed toward system I (high F scale). 
He also found that the incidence of such maneuvers increased relatively 
more in system I Ss as the devaluing comments became increasingly 
negative. 

Implications for Designing Investigations 

All of the investigations in the preceding section employed designs 
that varied both situational condition and personality disposition. One 
valuable characteristic of such designs is that the sample of persons 
studied is defined in conceptually relevant terms, that is, system-specific 
dispositional groups. If the system-related character of the subjects is 
unknown and only the situational condition is varied, the investigator 
is forced to rely on a "random" sample, limiting his conclusions to 
"people-in-general." Viewed from the present position a random sample 



268 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

may contain a disproportionate number of persons disposed toward a 
particular system, thus biasing the results in an unknown fashion. 

A situational-dispositional design cast in system-relevant terms avoids 
such unknown bias by separating the question of determining the 
proportion of persons disposed toward a particular system in a popu- 
lation from the question of studying the effect of that systemic dispo- 
sition interacting with a particular situational effect. Put more specif- 
ically, the proportion of persons disposed toward any system, say system 
II, will likely vary considerably in different populations — for example, 
high school boys, housewives, college sophomores, institutionalized 
delinquents, immigrants, or Unitarians. Investigations to determine 
proportion of persons disposed toward each system in various groups 
( age, sex, occupation, ethnicity, or social class ) is an area that we have 
not emphasized but which will be very valuable for the present position. 
However, from a systemic viewpoint, one may investigate the role of 
one or more system-specific dispositional factors interacting with 
situational factors in any population. If the investigator is preselecting 
individuals disposed toward a particular system in a population in 
which that systemic disposition occurs infrequently, he will face the 
practical problem of having a limited number of subjects available. 
The important point, however, is that the present view provides a 
basis for studying the operation of the same conceptual processes in 
widely different populations. 

The major difficulty in such investigations is that although a dispo- 
sition toward any system may occur in any population (assuming of 
course that there are no physiological limitations, as for example in a 
group of brain-damaged patients), the behavioral expression emanat- 
ing from the same system may vary in different populations, as we 
noted earlier with respect to possible expressive differences in males 
and females. Therefore, more information is needed regarding the form 
of behavioral expression in various populations. As we learn more about 
the systemic equivalence of behavioral expression in different groups 
we may approach the task of replication of results by investigating the 
same system-relevant hypothesis in a different group rather than in 
another random sample. 

It may be helpful to consider a study investigating three dispositional 
groups ( of high school boys ) that were exposed to three forms of situ- 
ational pressure (Schroder and Hunt, 1959). Groups of persons dis- 
posed toward systems II, III, and IV were selected on the basis of a 
situational interpretation measure and later confronted by several 
hypothetical situations, each designed to elicit functioning predomi- 
nantly in one of the three systems (strong situational "pull"). The 
design therefore is an application of the model in Table 21 to investigat- 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 



269 



ing system-specific effects in systems II, III, and IV. The general hy- 
pothesis was that when system disposition and situation "pull" were 
congruent, the operation of that system (as indicated by interpretive 
responses) will be greatest. The specific hypotheses stated that the 
occurrence of system II-related responses will be greatest when the 
system II group encounters strong system II "pull," the occurrence of 
system Ill-related responses will be greatest when the system III group 
encounters strong system III "pull," and similarly for system IV. The 
responses made to each of the three situations were therefore categor- 
ized as reflecting the operation of one of the three systems. The results 
are summarized in Figure I. The hypotheses were analyzed for each 
of the three systems separately in order to assess the construct 



Situational Conditions 



ng System 


Strong System 


Strong System 


II pull 


III pull 


IV pull 



High System 
II Group 



II III IV 



II III IV 




II III 



C3 

~ce High System 
.2 HI Group 




II III IV 




II III IV 



II III IV 



High System 
IV Group 





II III IV 



Note: II, m, and IV in each cell indicates the proportion of 
responses of these three respective subsystems given 
in each situational-dispositional combination. 

FIGURE I 

Occurrence of System-Specific Responses As an Interactive 
Function of Situational and Dispositional Factors 



270 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

validity of each system. Without reviewing the results in detail it may 
be noted that for both systems II and IV, the hypothesis of greater 
occurrence of system-related responses when both disposition and 
situation favor that system was supported, but for system III, results 
were less conclusive. 

The explicit aim of this investigation was to demonstrate that system 
operation is maximal when both disposition and situation favor that 
system. What happens, however, when situation and disposition favor 
different systems, for example, what response occurs when a person 
disposed to system II encounters a situation highly compelling to 
system IV functioning? Let us initially approach this important question 
from a theoretical standpoint, although Figure I provides some very 
tentative empirical evidence, which we consider later. 

This question clearly requires an explicit formulation of the nature 
of the organism. As suggested earlier in this chapter, we approach this 
question by dimensionalizing the structural properties of systems and 
therefore would phrase the question, "Given this conceptual structure, 
how will the situational condition be dealt with?" We would hypoth- 
esize that the ease of induction of system functioning other than the 
system to which the person is primarily disposed will be directly related 
to the level of abstractness of the conceptual structure. Since progres- 
sion to the organization of system IV structure requires differentiation 
and integration of each of the other three stages, we would assume that 
system IV functioning is characterized by the capacity to take on func- 
tioning at more concrete levels if the conditions require, that is, under 
strong situational "pull." The person disposed toward system IV can 
therefore adopt (or take on the closedness of) system I functioning 
under appropriate circumstances; however, in contrast to the person 
disposed toward system I, the system IV S may later become open and 
shift to another form of functioning. The induction of more abstract 
functioning will be accordingly difficult in more concrete dispositional 
groups. These hypotheses suggest a number of investigations that are 
needed, since at the moment we have sparse evidence on these ques- 
tions. However, Figure I suggests that it is easier to induce system II 
functioning in persons disposed to system IV than it is to induce system 
IV functioning in persons disposed to system II, which would be ex- 
pected from this view. 

In order to understand how a particular individual will respond to 
a specific situation, we need to know more than his dispositional tend- 
ency toward one or the other system. We need to know the degree of 
openness, degree of transitional conflict, and degree of directness of 
expression since the person functioning at stage III who is open to 



SITUATIONAL AND DISPOSITIONAL DETERMINANTS 271 

progression will respond quite differently to a situation high in system 
IV "pull" than will a person whose functioning is arrested at system 
III, even though both may be described generally as disposed toward 
system III functioning. This example illustrates the difference between 
the gross procedure of tapping dispositional tendencies with which the 
present chapter has been concerned and the more precise procedure 
of describing personality organization along various structural dimen- 
sions, which we consider in Chapter 10 as an essential phase in the 
modification of conceptual systems. Before discussing the topic of 
modification, however, it is appropriate to consider in the next chapter 
the conceptual organization underlying extreme forms of functioning, 
or psychopathology. 



9 Extreme Forms of 

Conceptual Functioning: 

Psychopathology * 



What are the implications of the present viewpoint for psychopa- 
thology? The present chapter views the various forms of neuroses and 
psychoses as extreme forms of conceptual functioning. Our aim is not 
to enumerate all of the various diagnostic entities and then "explain" 
each one in terms of the current position. Rather, we attempt to derive 
patterns of "abnormal" functioning through the use of a few general 
principles. These patterns are considered in relation to the traditional 
descriptions of pathological syndromes as one means of evaluating the 
efficacy of these derivations. 

Since the area of psychopathology is replete with terms, categories, 
and descriptions, we hope that the present use of still other terms will 
contribute something beyond simply proliferating the already over- 
abundant terminology. The potential contribution of the present 
deductive approach is the increased generality provided. If abnormal 
reactions are viewed as extreme resolutions emanating from system 
functioning, the knowledge regarding less extreme resolutions (Chap- 
ters 7 and 8) becomes applicable. Further, if psychopathological re- 
actions are viewed as an extreme form of conceptual functioning, 
therapeutic intervention procedures aimed toward modifying such 
extreme resolutions should be derivable from the same principles that 
apply to changing any system (Chapter 10). A potential disadvantage 
in the application of a deductive approach is that it may not come to 
grips with every form of disorder, since the traditional syndromes were 
not used as the anchors for our general formulation. Put another way, 
we are not attempting to set forth a comprehensive description of all 

1 Since we do not present this chapter as a definitive account of the field of psy- 
chopathology, we have drawn rather heavily on what we consider to be an excellent 
general source in this field. Our indebtedness to R. W. White's formulation (1956) 
becomes increasingly apparent as this chapter proceeds. 

272 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 273 

forms of psychopathology, but are applying our viewpoint to the area 
of behavior disorder as another means for evaluating the potential 
utility and generality of the present formulation. 

In contrast to the preceding chapters, which dealt with specific 
systems, the unit of analysis in the present chapter is the total self- 
system, or the entire personality organization. Although presumably 
the principles derived in this chapter should be applicable to a single 
concept or to a circumscribed system (for example, paranoia, or the 
"island" psychosis), we deal with extreme resolutions emanating from 
the totality of conceptual systems in the total self -organization. 

The organization of the present chapter revolves around the use of 
the concept, threat, which we define in terms of extreme refutation. On 
the basis of earlier principles the general nature and effect of threat 
are elaborated and related to variations along the concrete-abstract 
dimension. The general role of threat in nodally arrested systems and 
transitionally arrested systems is considered. 

Introductory Considerations 

Refutation, Threat, and Excessively Closed Systems 

The occurrence of refutation or the experience of potential refutation 
depends upon both the nature of the event and the structural character- 
istics of the system through which the event is experienced ( Chapter 3 ) . 
One of the most important structural determinants is the degree of 
closedness of the system. Arrested systems are characterized by closed- 
ness to specific environmental events (see Table 3 on pp. 116-117). 
However, within arrested systems at any level, the degree of closedness 
varies considerably and is paralleled by variations in sensitization. Ex- 
cessively closed systems are presumably extremely sensitive to potential 
refutation so that very slight increases in environmental pressures are 
interpreted as potentially refuting. We use the term, threat ( or stress ) , 
to describe events experienced by excessively closed systems as well as 
those events that are extreme or intense in the veridical sense. In the 
present chapter we emphasize threat in the former sense, but it should 
be noted that in either case threat is equivalent to potentially intense 
refutation. A major portion of this chapter is devoted to the determinants 
and consequences of system-specific threat. 

Two generic effects of excessively closed systems may be noted at 
this time: (1) when confronted by a single event or object, the person 
is more likely to make only a single interpretation without entertaining 
alternative interpretations (inflexible interpretation), and (2) the 
person is also more likely to apply this single interpretation over a 



274 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

wide range, perhaps all, of the events he encounters (over generalized 
interpretation) . These two consequences are similar in one respect in 
that they involve the same underlying pattern of functioning: excessive 
use of a single interpretation. Whether only one or both effects occur 
depends on the environmental circumstances that are encountered. At 
a general level, therefore, we may note that these two interrelated as- 
pects — inflexibility and overgeneralization — are the central features of 
what is usually referred to as psychopathological functioning. 

The more any given system becomes closed to alternative evaluations 
or the more functioning in reference to a broad range of objects can 
be described in terms of a single, narrow conceptual orientation, the 
more pathological is the resolution syndrome. Consequently, as a 
conceptual system becomes increasingly closed to alternative inter- 
pretations based on other conceptual levels, the more the resolution 
would be expected to reflect the pure or specific characteristics of the 
system involved. Therefore the nodal and transitional systems repre- 
sent a theoretical basis for classifying these variations in psychopa- 
thology and are summarized in Table 23. Most of the remaining portions 
of this chapter elaborate and clarify Table 23. 

General Nature and Effect of Threat 

Maximum threat to any system is defined by those situational con- 
ditions that increase pressures toward evaluations to which the system 
engaged is maximally closed. As we have noted earlier, arrestation at 
any stage and in reference to any particular set of objects results from 
conditions that increase the closedness of a system to those differen- 
tiations required for progression. Consequently, those conditions re- 
quired for progression at any stage are the very conditions that con- 
stitute maximum threat to systems when development at that stage has 
been arrested. 

As indicated in Table 23, maximum threat to arrested system I is 
produced by increased pressures toward pole B differentiations, that is, 
opposition to absolute standards, whereas maximum threat to system 
II is produced by increased pressures toward pole D differentiations, 
that is, dependency. 

Threat may also result from increased pressures toward more concrete 
differentiations (see Chapters 4, 5, and 6). For example, closedness to 
pole D (dependency) differentiations at stage II implies an earlier 
failure to integrate pole A and pole B effectively during the first tran- 
sitional phase. Arrestation at stage II therefore involves a concomitant 
progressive closedness to pole A of stage I (external control). Conse- 
quently, arrestation at stage II involves closedness to dependency in 
any form, including dependency on authoritative control. Similarly, 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 275 

arrestation at stage III represents closedness to autonomy in any form, 
particularly separation, but it also involves greater relative closedness 
to pole B (negativism) than to pole A evaluations (authoritative con- 
trol). 

As implied earlier, excessive closedness produces two effects : ( 1 ) 
extreme sensitization to conditions that increase pressures toward re- 
futing or threatening interpretations and (2) strong tendencies to 
"ward off" such evaluations, which in turn results in further increasing 
the closedness of the system. The final result is a single interpretive 
schema, representing the extreme form of a given conceptual system 
with a minimum of checks and balances. Conversely, the more open 
the conceptual system to alternative differentiations the more refutation 
comes to be an antecedent condition for a change in the structure of 
conceptual linkages and progressive development. 

A major assumption in the present chapter is that the more central the 
concept or system of concepts being threatened, the greater is the gen- 
eralization of the resulting increase in closedness to other concepts in 
the self-system. For most individuals the level of abstractness of func- 
tioning varies across situations or areas. Threat experienced in regard to 
more peripheral subject-object ties may produce psychopathological 
functioning in a specific area, but the more central the threatening tie, 
the greater is the likelihood of increased closedness. In this chapter 
closedness is used to refer to central ties that involve generalization to 
a large number of other areas. 

The extent to which "arrested systems" become increasingly closed 
(and in our terms increasingly psychopathological) as a result of threat, 
depends upon ( 1 ) the concreteness of the system and ( 2 ) the degree 
to which the system of subject-object relatedness is conflicting or tran- 
sitional. The more abstract the system, the greater is the resistance to 
increasing closedness. The effect of threat on each of these systemic 
characteristics is considered in the next section. 

Threat and the Concrete- Abstract Dimension 

Arrestation of development implies that the differentiations required 
for progression become increasingly threatening. When such threat is 
intense the result is "warding off," "subjectivity," and "defensiveness," 
which we refer to as extreme resolutions. Because more abstract con- 
ceptual systems involve some already achieved integration of con- 
flicting forms of conceptual structure, such systems are likely to have a 
greater tolerance of threat. Put another way, in abstract systems the 
range of threatening conditions is more limited; the concepts are less 
"brittle." 

If a subject can differentiate his relatedness to objects along several 






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278 



CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 



dimensions and can integrate these into new conceptual linkages, he 
is more likely to initiate alternative and appropriate action to overcome 
or tolerate refutation ( lowering his goals, provisionally devaluing him- 
self) and thus avoid the consequences of increased system closedness. 
However, under certain conditions, these abstract systems (excluding 
system IV ) may become highly closed to alternate evaluations in refer- 
ence to particular situations ( see Table 23 ) . Any arrested conceptual 
system may become increasingly closed to alternate systems of order- 
ing. It is the probability of becoming increasingly closed that decreases 
in more abstract systems. The relationship between such probability 
of increased closedness and the level of abstractness is shown in Table 
24. 

Since we are dealing with ego-involving or central concepts, the 

TABLE 24 

Relationship between Probability of Increasing System Closedness and 
Level of Abstractness of System As Reflected in Psychopathological 

Disorders 



an 
o 




Schizophrenic 


Obsessive Compulsive 








o 

CD 

CI 






\ Neuroses and Negativism 


O 

CJ> 






\ Pcurhnnathu 


o 
o 
« 

"sj 










CI 

CD 








\Hysterical Syndromes and 


CD 

CD 

-CI 










\0verdnven Assertiveness 














CD 

CI 










\ Denressive States 


O 




























<3 














Anxiety 


— 














\States 


^5 
















& 
















-Q 

O 

















Low 



Concrete 



System 


Level 


System 


Level 


System 


Level 


System 


I 


I 


II 


II 


III 


III 


IV 



Abstract 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 279 

degree of closedness following threat is essentially the same as the 
degree to which the closedness generalizes to other areas of the life 
space. As Table 24 indicates, the more concrete the system, whether 
nodal or transitional, the more highly generalized are the effects of 
threat. Put in structural terms, the greater the diffuseness and absolute- 
ness (lack of differentiation) of the system, the more generalized will 
be the effects of threat. To anticipate the implications of this proposi- 
tion we would expect greater generalization of increasing system I 
closedness or increasing level I transitional conflict, than in system III 
closedness or level III transitional conflict. Transformed into more 
traditional terms, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive neuroses 
represent more diffuse effects of threat than do depressive or anxiety 
states. However, the relationships depicted in Table 24 are not entirely 
sufficient to account for the general consequences of increasing system- 
specific threat. A second factor to which we now turn is required. 

Threat and Degree of Transitional Conflict 

A second factor affects the degree of closedness resulting from threat. 
This factor, which operates independently from the degree of abstract- 
ness, is the extent to which the system involves conflicting forms of 
subject-object linkages ( the extent to which the system is transitional ) . 
Since the systemic pressures involved in transitional systems operate as 
dynamic forces that are in opposition, it is proposed that the probability 
of such systems becoming completely closed, and thus generating a 
single interpretation of all events, is much less in transitional systems 
than in nodally arrested systems. 

In transitional systems, conflicting differentiations tend to counteract 
each other so that neither becomes completely dominant. This "fulcrum- 
like" process may result in avoidance and overcompensatory resolutions 
as indicated in our discussion of transitional systems (Chapter 6), but 
the alternate conflicting evaluations act to prevent the more extreme 
degrees of closedness, which can occur in the non-conflicting, nodal 
systems. In the latter most conflict has been avoided; one pole is dom- 
inant. Transitional system functioning is therefore characterized by 
inflexible vacillation, which is itself also overgeneralized. The absence 
in non-conflicting systems of pressures toward alternate evaluations 
increases the probability of extreme closedness associated with a single 
interpretation. Thus, the simultaneous occurrence of alternating dif- 
ferentiations in extreme transitional systems acts as a buffer to the 
development of a single interpretive system. 

The combined effects of level of abstractness and compartmental- 
ization or conflict are diagrammatically presented in Table 25, which 



280 



CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 



TABLE 25 

Relationship of the Probability of Increasing System Closedness As a Joint 

Function of Level of Abstractness and Transitional Nature of Systems As 

Reflected in Psychopathological Conditions 

High 



O =3 

'-£= O 
TO <_> 

OJ ° 
C3 +-. 




Schizophrenia 




to no 

-§£ 

o "na 








Depression 


Ctf) 1 — 




Obsessive 


-Compulsive 
and Negativism 

Hysterical 


— ~o 




~! Neuroses 


Syndromes and 


1! 

o 





1 

1 
1 

1 
1 


I Overdriven Assertiveness 

! Anxiety 
J States 

l i 



Low 



System 
I 


Level System Level System 
I II II III 


Level System 
III IV 


Concrete 
h tolerance) 


System of Relatedness 
Degree of Abstractness 


Abstract 
(high tolerance) 



represents a combined ordering on several dimensions, as follows: 
First, the dimension of tolerance for threat (stress) is involved, in 
that the more abstract the system the less is the generalization of closed- 
ness following threat, and the greater is the resulting openness to new 
interpretations. Put in prognostic terms the more abstract the system 
the more positive is the prognosis under favorable training conditions 
(see Chapter 10). Second, the dimension of the degree of conflict 
between two forms of relatedness within a system is involved since 
threat to transitional systems induces greater conflict between alternate 
evaluations. This conflict increases avoidance and overcompensatory 
resolutions in order to maximize positive affect. As a consequence of 
threat to non-conflicting systems, closedness to alternate forms of 
evaluation increases, leading to a single interpretive system. This state 
of extreme closedness is characterized by "self-reference," "projec- 
tion," and the relative inability to incorporate differentiations or eval- 
uations generated by other systems. In this state, the extreme specific 
tendencies would be most clearly apparent. 



EXTREME FORMS OF CON'CEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 281 

The effects of system-specific threat on the more non-conflicting 
systems (that is, highly closed nodal systems) are, we believe, similar 
to what have been traditionally called "psychoses." The effects of 
system-specific threat on transitional systems (to highly conflicting 
transitional systems) are similar to the "neuroses." That is, we propose 
three 1 generic forms of system closedness ( psychoses ) and three generic 
forms of transitional conflict (neuroses) as outlined in Tables 24 and 25. 

Implications of Within-System Dimensions 

How does the indirect-direct dimension influence the effects that 
threat has on nodal, non-conflicting systems? We contend that the more 
indirect the expression of system-specific tendencies, the more pro- 
gressive or evolutionary is the onset of pathological reactions. Con- 
versely, the more direct the system of expression, the more reactive or 
abrupt is the onset. Direct system functioning, when not extreme, is 
characterized by an outgoing, overt, and apparently "successful" ad- 
justment from a normative point of view. However, the underlying 
conceptual system in both forms of expression is motivationally identical 
at a given stage or level. Threat produces immediately apparent effects 
on indirect functioning in anv system. The effects of threat upon direct 
functioning may not be immediatelv evident, but when threat continues 
over time the result is a greater refutation or discrepancy to direct 
systems so that extreme resolutions may appear to develop abruptly 
and severely. 

In the traditional process-reactive distinction, we identify the extreme 
forms of closedness of indirect systems with progressive psychoses 
and the extreme forms of closedness in direct systems with the reactive 
psychoses. This contention receives some support from a study by 
Birren (1944) who found that ". . . an apathetic type of reaction in 
childhood is a relatively permanent type of behavior and is a forerunner 
of early hospitalization, poor hospital adjustment, and poor prognosis 
for recovery in cases developing mental disease" (Birren, 1944, p. 94). 

On the basis of the principles developed in Chapter 6 regarding 
transition dimensions at whatever level, the following points may be 
derived : 

1. In arrested transitional svstems that are relatively more concrete 
at each level (level I [A > B], level II [C > D], and level III [E > F] ) 
functioning is more direct. Since threat leads to increased conflict in 
these transitional systems, avoidant and overcompensatory resolutions 

1 System IV by definition is not closed to alternate forms of ordering, but remains 
relatively open to alternate interpretations, and is not further discussed in this 
chapter. 



282 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

are relatively more direct, as they are an expression of a more articulated, 
previously established system. 

2. In systems on the more abstract side of the transitional dimension 
(level I [B > A], level II [D > C], and level III [F > E] ) expression 
is more indirect because these levels are dominated by a system of func- 
tioning that has been less well articulated. Such systems represent 
development based on the indirect avoidance of the earlier, more 
concrete, system of relatedness (pole A), accompanied by a lack of 
ability or potential to adopt the next most abstract level of functioning 
directly (pole B). This highly indirect expression of a poorly articulated 
system is contrasted with systems involving greater directness of avoid- 
ant and compensatorv resolutions. Within each transitional dimension, 
not only does the nature of the dominant expression change but the 
degree of overall directness of expression also differs. 

When conflict increases in transitional systems, the system-specific 
avoidant and overcompensatory resolutions become more extreme and 
more generalized over a wide variety of situations (increasing closed- 
ness to alternate svstem evaluation ) . One general effect of stress there- 
fore is to produce more "pure" system-specific tendencies because of 
the exclusion of modifying extrasystem tendencies. 

Viewed as psychopathology, those transitional systems that involve 
the expression of the more articulated svstem are referred to as the direct 
neuroses. Transitional systems that involve the expression of the less 
well articulated conflicting svstem are referred to as the indirect 
neuroses (see Table 23). The relationship between symptom or reso- 
lution syndromes and system dynamics should be more symbolic in 
the indirect systems. 

Increasing Closedness and Regression 

Since the concept of regression occupies a prominent place in many 
theories of psychopathology (for example, Freud, Lewin), the rela- 
tion between the present conception and regression may be considered. 
We have emphasized the role of closedness of systems in psychopa- 
thology. In this sense closedness to alternate differentiations within a 
given range of objects, at any level of abstractness, represents a psy- 
chopathological reaction. From this line of reasoning psychopathology 
is not a regressive phenomenon since it does not represent a regression 
to a more concretistic level of functioning after progression to an ab- 
stract level has occurred. Therefore, we would propose that threat 
leads initially to a more extreme and overgeneralized closed system of 
subject-object linkages at the same level of abstractness. Threat pre- 
sumably affects the nature of differentiations, judgments, and percep- 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 283 

tions, but these changes occur within a particular stage or level. Con- 
sequently, we would expect three classes of psychosis or systems of 
functioning based on a single interpretative system, varying in degree 
of abstractness, which would correspond generally to schizophrenic 
(stage I) psychopathy (stage II) and depression (stage III). The 
psychopathological counterparts of three transitional levels would be 
the neurotic syndromes varying in degree of abstractness: obsessive- 
compulsive reactions (level I), hysterical reactions (level II), and 
anxiety reactions (level III). 

Although we do not employ regression as an explanatory concept, 
we acknowledge the occurrence of reactions, which others describe as 
regressive. More specifically, after the occurrence of system-specific 
threat to central ties the corresponding development of increasing 
closedness leads to two effects that may be described as regressive. The 
first effect involves the generalization of the increasing closedness to 
other areas. The more central the threatening ties, the greater is the 
generalization of the effects to previously peripheral areas. At this 
stage the more abstract differentiations in other areas also decrease, 
and fewer systems of ordering in other areas of the life space are 
utilized. The increasing generalization of closedness to the more ab- 
stract differentiations in other areas may be viewed as regression, which 
is a reversal of normal developmental trends or dedifferentiation. The 
second effect is "cyclical" (see Chapter 4) in that closedness and gen- 
eralization of closedness to other areas are likely to produce changes in 
the reactions of others toward the subject. In addition to this dif- 
ferential reaction, he may be removed to a new environment, a new 
job, or a hospital. His perception of a range of events changes accord- 
ingly, and therefore we would expect a "cyclical" swing toward a more 
concretistic orientation, relative to his past history. We emphasized in 
an earlier chapter that stage I functioning at age two is normatively and 
relatively different from stage I functioning at age five (as the child's 
situation changes). Similarly a return to stage I type functioning that 
follows changes due to increased closedness is not an exact replication 
of the earlier stage I behavior, owing to intervening experience and to 
changes in the life situation. 

Therefore we view reactions described as regressive in terms of 
either one or both of the above two effects. Hypothetically we view 
psychopathological reactions as increasing closedness at any level of 
abstractness, but in practice secondary regressive effects are included. 
In this chapter we do not stress the developmental progression of a 
given psychopathology beyond the initial effects of increasing closed- 
ness within any system. However, we are aware of the variety of changes 



284 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

that occur following increasing closedness including the characteristic 
regressive effects that we view in terms of the generalization of system 
closedness. 

The diagnosis and classification of psychopathology are complicated 
by these secondary effects of closedness (described as regression). If 
psychopathology, at any level of abstractness, represents the pure case 
of structure and function at that stage of arrestation, the psychopa- 
thologies would represent the extreme form of our descriptions of each 
nodal and transitional system, as indicated in Tables 24 and 25. But 
this simplicity is complicated. by the secondary effects of closedness 
just described. For example, threat to central stage III systems, if 
quite intense, may produce a "cyclical" swing to stage I functioning 
and the possible intrusion of some stage I tendencies. Although these 
cyclical swings may occur from any level higher than system I, cyclical 
swings from stage II to stage I would be less probable following threat 
than cyclical swings from stage III to stage I for reasons we have dis- 
cussed earlier. It is interesting to note, when "cyclical" effects occur in 
the development of extreme closedness of any system (stage I, II, or 
III), it is stage I tendencies that accompany psychopathological re- 
actions. However, more important for meaningful diagnosis than 
these secondary effects is the primary closed system of functioning as 
outlined in Table 23. We suspect that the failure to distinguish primary 
and secondary effects may produce many of the problems in psychiatric 
diagnosis. 

A second implication of our analysis of secondary regressive effects 
is that the more direct the system the greater is the "cyclical" effect 
and the more likely are stage I intrusions following closedness. Since 
direct system functioning is more "normal" from an observer's point 
of view, the effects of threat are likely to appear more abrupt, and in 
fact they are. The large discrepancy between pre- and post-threat func- 
tioning characteristic of direct systems often finds the observer relatively 
unprepared for the change that occurs in direct functioning. We expect 
increasing stage I tendencies to develop more rapidly following threat 
to direct systems. 

We now consider in a system-specific framework the nature and 
effects of threat, the forms of extreme resolution, and the relationship 
between these resolution syndromes and more traditional descriptions 
of abnormal behavior. We discuss the nodal systems first, followed by 
a consideration of the pathological forms of transitional systems. 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 285 

Threat within System I 

Nature and Effect of Threat in System 1 

According to our theoretical expectations, the situations that are 
maximally threatening to system I are those that increase oppositional 
tendencies or are extremely ambiguous. Because system I relatedness 
is dependent upon external criteria, any situation that increases the 
tendency to abandon or to oppose such criteria threatens the subject's 
central ties to the world. Since independence from external control is 
lacking, the subject does not view what happens to him as self-deter- 
mined, hence any form of failure or unfavorable evaluation of the 
subject is attributed to an external cause. This in turn leads the sub- 
ject to experience increased aggression or resistance toward the source. 
However, since the system is closed to the expression of such impulses, 
such experiences increase anxiety. 

Because the subject has not differentiated himself from the source, 
his internal feelings, fantasies, or impulses are therefore not well dif- 
ferentiated from external control. Therefore, the anxiety accompanying 
hostile feelings to the source is reduced bv attributing these feelings to 
external causes ("disowning projection"). Such hostile impulse or 
sexual feelings, which are evaluated as being externally determined, 
represent transgression in svstem I functioning. Therefore they are 
likely to produce increased system closedness and in turn lead to an 
increasing tendencv to evaluate such impulses as being caused by an 
external source. Threat within system I leads to increased closedness to 
internal control and increased openness to evaluations based on external 
control. Increased closedness in this system therefore not only leaves 
internal feeling undifferentiated from external control but also prevents 
the differentiation between fantasy and reality, or between thought and 
action. 

The more closed the system, the more the subject's behavior comes 
to be directed toward more absolute, externally defined, depersonalized 
goals. In interpersonal relationships as well as other areas such as 
occupational goals, the subject's goal is to achieve at some absolute 
level. Relationships are viewed more in terms of absolute categorical 
or fixed characteristics. Since these external goals are beyond the control 
of the subject and remain unchanged, the failure to meet them does 
not lead to modification of the subject's behavior although he may ex- 
perience tendencies toward opposition. An observer may view this 
inflexibilitv as high ambition or perhaps arrogance. The subject's 
dominant tendencies may increase, which widens the gap between the 



286 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

goal and performance, thus increasing the isolation of the subject from 
other people. Increasing closedness results because the experienced 
shortcomings lead directly to increased oppositional tendencies that 
are maximally threatening. In this system shortcomings are experienced 
as external events, as existing in the ideas of other people, particularly 
in people in control. Owing to the failure to differentiate sufficiently 
a system of ordering based on internal control, the subject's own 
thoughts, feelings, or impulses are experienced as representing either 
the result of external control or as identical to the thoughts of others. 
This tendency to assign cause to forces outside oneself is generally 
referred to as projection. The threat produced by increased pressure 
toward oppositional tendencies leads to increasing closedness to internal 
control, thus leaving intact the absolutistic criteria that are outside the 
range of self-determination. 

Socially valued achievements require some degree of autonomy, 
independence, responsibility, and so forth for their accomplishment. As 
extreme system I resolutions are literally self-defacing, the individual 
becomes less and less able to meet the absolute goals. As the gap be- 
tween absolute goal levels and performance widens, system I resolutions 
become more extreme and inflexible. In the final phase, the subject 
attributes the cause of his shortcomings directly to other persons or 
external forces over which he has absolutely no control and is helpless 
to oppose. The subject perceives the external forces as both imposing 
rigid, absolutistic goals and preventing their achievement by control- 
ling and initiating the subject's actions, feelings, and urges. The net 
effect is an "exaggerated self-reference" and an absence of "reality 
testing." Although this overgeneralized delusional form of system I 
functioning is extreme, its systemic characteristics are essentially the 
same as the less extreme forms of system I functioning described earlier. 
Illustrating this general similarity is Jensen's finding that high F-scale 
(system I) Ss manifested "more primitive defenses of a compulsive, 
ritualistic, and schizoid nature" (Jensen, 1957, p. 310). 

Before the final phase of delusional functioning occurs, im- 
mature outbursts of uncontrolled opposition may be noted. In a 
context of "normal" progressive development such tendencies toward 
negativistic opposition are integrated with other systems, which pro- 
vide a basis for controlling the oppositional tendencies. In the absence 
of such integration, oppositional tendencies can be controlled only by 
external forces so that if these oppositional tendencies become suffi- 
ciently strong, they may become overt, taking on destructive and 
uncontrolled characteristics. However, since the expression of such 
opposition within system I is so extremely threatening, it is more likely 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 287 

that the tendency toward opposition will result in strong guilt feelings, 
which in turn would produce increased closedness. 

Relationship of Extreme System I Functioning 
to Traditional Pathological Syndromes 

The brief description of the more extreme forms of system I func- 
tioning is unmistakably similar to the general pathological syndrome of 
schizophrenia. Although many subclassifications of schizophrenia have 
been proposed, certain common characteristics of thought have been 
grouped together as characteristically schizophrenic. In addition to 
the work of Levy-Bruhl ( 1923 ) and Werner ( 1957 ) described in Chap- 
ter 2, Schmideberg (1930), and Lambo (1955) have studied the rela- 
tionship between schizophrenic thought and the mystical and con- 
cretistic thinking of primitive man. Werner's (1957) description of 
the "physiognomic" content of thought, as the attribution of subjective 
characteristics to "things," is typical of both primitive man and of 
schizophrenic thought. 

Werner accounts for this primitive thinking by positing a diffuse 
boundary between the personality and the external world. Lambo 
( 1955) noted from his study of the Yoruba tribe, that the member: 

. . . formulates a naive psychological and epistemological attitude — a wav 
of comprehending his social environment by identifying himself with his 
life soul (the "elan vital" of Bergson) even to a point of confusing its spatial 
relationship by regarding it as an external force. This conception of the 
world is pre-determined by a confused distinction between the ego and the 
non-ego (the external world), between the subject and the object of cogni- 
tion. ... in practice it is not always possible to delineate confidendy where 
normal primitive beliefs cease and paranoid psvchosis begins (Lambo, 1955, 
pp. 246-247). 

Another characteristic of extreme system I functioning that is tvpical 
of schizophrenic thought is the attribution of causalitv to external 
forces, best illustrated by delusions of being controlled. In his discus- 
sion of a typical paranoid schizophrenic delusion, White (1956) states: 

To a remarkable extent he seems bent on assigning all initiative and all 
motives, all action of any kind, to forces outside himself, so that even his 
letter is being written by one of the helpless women, even his emotions 
originate in them (White, 1956, p. 85). 

The delusion is an extreme form of projection, of experiencing one's 
own shortcomings in terms of external criticism. This tendencv to 
experience real or imagined shortcomings as externally determined is 
typical of schizophrenic thought. White (1956) presents a case illus- 
trating exaggerated self -reference. For example, a patient said: 



288 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

"I'll tell the world!" This remark insinuates that I had been in the habit 
of telling the world what to do, or telling the world defiandy where to go 
to. This remark insinuates that in my supreme arrogance I had been telling 
the world some of my opinions held by me to be of more importance and 
consequence than the opinions of all the rest of humanity put together. 
. . . [And,] "He needs a woman." This is self-explanatory. It infers I am 
a masturbator, and that I need a woman to straighten out my sex life, but 
that I cannot get one (White, 1956, p. 88). 

Extreme system I functioning is characterized by (1) keeping the 
self emotionally detached from others, (2) engaging in unilateral 
relationships, (3) attributing. the basis for emotional feelings, including 
sexual urges, directly to the control of an external agent. In schizo- 
phrenic thinking, sexual urges or forces are frequently attributed to 
"things" rather than to internal determinants. 

Developmental Antecedents of Extreme 
System I Functioning 

Since highly closed forms of svstem I relatedness and certain aspects 
of schizophrenic thought processes appear to be related, we would 
expect to find a general association between reliable unilateral training 
( proposed as antecedent to arrestation at stage I ) and the development 
of schizophrenic tendencies. Although studies indicate that such an 
association generally exists, a much more detailed analysis of the 
operations underlying the various methods of training is required in 
order to classify more complex training situations. One of the most 
critical questions concerns the effect of the interaction between two 
training agents (for example, two parents) on the training method. We 
need to understand the training method (from the subject's point of 
view) that emerges as a result of the interaction between the subject and 
his total training environment. This environment includes both parents 
and the relationship between the training method each parent utilizes 
(Lidz, 1958). 

The major components of reliable unilateral training are: (1) ex- 
ternal source determination of the system of ordering, (2) emphasis 
on ends rather than means in gaining control over behavior, and (3) 
extrinsic evaluation. These operations, often combined in complex ways, 
are reported in most investigations of the parent-rearing antecedents of 
schizophrenia. Generally the training environment described involves 
(1) the parents' compulsive requirement that the child behave in a 
particular fashion, (2) the parents' restriction of alternative means of 
behaving or thinking, (3) unilateral relationship between parent and 
child, which is lacking in mutuality', (4) restrictive and controlling 
practices, and ( 5 ) the "double bind" notion or the simultaneous demand 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 289 

and prevention of a course of action, for example, "always love your 
mother even when she punishes you for doing something you didn't 
do" or "don't speak to strangers but be friendly and polite to everyone." 
Lidz, Cornelison, Terry, and Fleck (1958) and Cameron (1943) 
view schizophrenia as a disorder of communication. Lidz ( 1958 ) stresses 
the etiological significance of the child's failure to assimilate the in- 
strumentalities of parental training. These authors (Lidz et al., 1958) 
observed that: 

. . . The struggles of these parents to preserve their own integration led 
them to limit their environment markedly by rigid preconceptions of the 
way things must be. . . . The parents' delimitation of the environment, and 
their perception of events to suit their needs, result in a strange family 
atmosphere into which children must fit themselves and suit this dominant 
need or feel unwanted. . . . Their conceptualizations of the environment 
are neither instrumental in affording consistent understanding and mastery 
of events, feelings, or persons. . . . Facts are consistent! v being altered to 
suit emotionally determined needs. . . . "Masking," which also confuses 
communication, refers to the ability of one or both parents to conceal some 
very disturbing situation within the family . . . the parent being unable 
either to accept or to alter the situation, ignores it and acts as though the 
family were a harmonious and homogeneous bodv which filled the needs of 
its members (Lidz et al, 1958, pp. 310-312). 

Typical of many etiological studies, Reichard and Tillman (1950), 
Hadju-Gimes ( 1940), and Tietze (1949) observed the restrictive nature 
of training, the artificial nature of the parents' affection, the subtly 
dominating features of the training practices, and the development of 
a symbiotic relatedness in which the ego of the child and the ego of the 
mother remain fused. In summary, Tietze (1949) states: 

All mothers were overanxious and obsessive, all were domineering, ten 
more overtly and fifteen in a more subtle fashion. All mothers were found 
to be restrictive with regard to the libidinal gratification of their children. 
Most of them were perfectionistic and oversolicitous and were more de- 
pendent on approval by others than the average mother (Tietze, 1949, pp. 
64-65). 

Many observers report cases of parental rejection in association with 
development of schizophrenic reactions. In our terms we would not 
expect this association unless rejection is defined in terms of a lack of 
mutuality, with restrictiveness and an excess of external control. It is 
in this sense that Reichard and Tillman (1950) described a rejecting 
mother of a schizophrenic as "cold and sadistically critical of her off- 
spring, insists that the patient meet her excessive demands for neatness 
and cleanliness, for politeness and observance of social norms or ful- 
fillment of her own unfulfilled ambitions" ( Reichard and Tillman. 1950, 
p. 251). 



290 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Questionnaire responses found to differentiate between mothers of 
male schizophrenics and mothers of non-schizophrenics tends to sup- 
port our developmental hypotheses (Mark, 1953). Mothers of male 
schizophrenics more often checked such items as: 

Children should be taken to and from school until the age of eight just 
to make sure there are no accidents. A mother should make it her business 
to know everything her children are thinking. If children are quiet for a 
little while a mother should immediately find out what they are thinking 
about. Children should not annoy parents with their unimportant problems. 
A watchful mother can keep her child out of all accidents. A parent must 
never make mistakes in front of the child. Parents should sacrifice everything 
for their children. Most children are toilet trained by 15 months of age. 
Children who take part in sex play become sex criminals when they grow up. 
A child should not plan to enter any occupation that his parents don't ap- 
prove of. Some children are just naturally bad. A good way to get children 
to obey is by giving them presents or promising them treats. Spanking a 
child does more good than harm (Mark, 1953, p. 187). 

Variations in Directness in Extreme 
System 1 Functioning 

On the basis of our earlier assumptions we would propose ( 1 ) that 
the indirect expression of extreme system I functioning would be asso- 
ciated with a more progressive or evolutionary onset of disorder, as 
found in simple and/or hebephrenic forms of schizophrenia, and (2) 
that more direct expression of extreme system I functioning would be 
associated with a more reactive onset and more active forms of schizo- 
phrenia, as in the paranoid and particularly the catatonic forms of 
schizophrenia. The indirect pole is characterized by poor differentiation 
between the subject and the source or between the subject and the 
external world. As the gap between the child's developmental level and 
that of his peers increases the following progressive sequence is typical: 
( 1 ) begins by being a "good" child when young, ( 2 ) progressive nar- 
rowing of interests, (3) lack of assertiveness and competitiveness, (4) 
gradual withdrawal from social relationships, (5) increasing tendency 
to perceive others as critical when this interpretation is unjustified, ( 6 ) 
indirect and passive forms of resistance, for example, grouchiness, ( 7 ) 
sporadic, immature attempts to dominate parents, and finally (8) un- 
systematized delusions and bizarre thoughts. 

The direct systems, on the other hand, are characterized by attempts 
to dominate others and by greater success in striving for and reaching 
absolutistic goals, which together give the appearance of a more suc- 
cessful adjustment. However, if the perceived gap between absolute, 
rigid goals and performance increases, the experienced discrepancy is 
reacted to in a greatly exaggerated fashion. If the increased dominative 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 291 

attempts (which result from greater oppositional pressures in direct 
systems) are unsuccessful, more extreme resolution forms will result 
in a more active form of schizophrenia, with an "apparently" sudden 
onset. In these cases it is easier to point to some observable precipitating 
threat. Functioning is generally associated with well-developed delu- 
sions, and may involve uncontrolled oppositional tendencies, which 
may be destructive and/or extremely indirect and inhibited, such as 
various forms of catatonic reactions. 

As schematized in Table 23, the catatonic reaction (peculiar ges- 
tures, stereotyped actions, immobility, and alternating states of stupor 
and excitement) may be viewed as midway between active system I 
functioning and level I transitional functioning. Catatonic reactions 
involve both schizophrenic process (system I) and the inhibition of 
negativism (level I). The onset of catatonic reactions may be exceed- 
ingly sudden. The disorder is characterized by an alternation between 
( 1 ) immobility and refusal to react (the most active and direct form of 
resistance to external constraint without utilizing actual opposition) 
and ( 2 ) uncontrolled, open, violent excitement ( representing the most 
immature, concrete, and uncontrolled form of opposition ) . Arrestation 
at this level of development produces tendencies toward opposition 
but prevents the control or integration of such tendencies. It seems 
plausible that, under high degrees of threat, this combination should 
produce the most severe episodes of uncontrolled violence. Systems of 
relatedness further along the level I transitional dimension (toward 
stage II systems) involve an increase in the expression and control of 
indirect oppositional tendencies. 

Friedman ( 1953 ) , Hemmendinger ( 1953 ) , and Siegel ( 1953 ) devel- 
oped a system for scoring the Rorschach Test for quality of perception. 
Following Werner, these authors classified responses as "genetically 
low" or "genetically high" on the basis of the separation of the blot 
areas into different parts, their hierarchic integration, and the organi- 
zation of these areas into a combined whole. Fine and Zimet (1959) 
used this method with schizophrenic patients and found that process 
or evolutionary schizophrenics showed more indices of perceptual 
immaturity ( labile and more indirect structures ) than reactive schizo- 
phrenics ( stable and more direct structures ) . 

In closing this section let us acknowledge that we have ignored the 
genetic or biological factors that may contribute to the predisposition 
to extreme forms of stage I functioning. Although we can make no direct 
contribution to this aspect of the problem, we would like to suggest 
that information about the functional or systemic characteristics of 
behavior may help pinpoint which biological factors are likely to be 



292 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

relevant. In stage I systems we suggest that the most relevant predis- 
posing biological factors should be those that limit the potential for 
a subject to discriminate himself from the external environment, to 
discriminate thought from act, fantasy from reality, and self-activation 
from external control. The essential nature of system I functioning, 
particularly when the system is highly closed, is the attribution of cause 
to an external agent or force. This characteristic represents, for us, a 
necessary operation for determining the induction (psychologically or 
biochemically) of extreme system I functioning as in a schizophrenic 
episode. 



Threat within System II 

Nature and Effect of Threat in System 11 

System-specific threat to stage II systems is produced by increasing 
pressures toward dependence on others or toward being controlled by 
them. In highly closed forms of system II, any kind of evaluation made 
by a source, whether positive or negative, will be threatening since the 
subject experiences the evaluation as potential imposition. Other sys- 
tem-specific threatening situations include protective or controlling 
pressures from distrusted sources and any situation that prevents the 
subject from becoming independent, such as the inability to be finan- 
cially independent from such sources. Impersonal and well-defined role 
relationships found in gangs and institutionalized life are less threaten- 
ing, and as mentioned earlier this is especially true when the intragroup 
structure is "in the service of" individual oppositional tendencies, as 
in adolescent gangs, protest groups, and so forth. The effect of threat 
is to close the system to source influence and dependence. This closed- 
ness is expressed by establishing greater psychological distance between 
the subject and other people through remaining out of reach, psycho- 
logically speaking. Like system I functioning, threat is associated with 
social withdrawal. However, in contrast to system I, which is char- 
acterized by withdrawal from internal control or an abandonment of 
the possibility of self-regulation, withdrawal within system II takes the 
form of attempted avoidance (through overt, negativistic tendencies) 
of any form of external control. Under condition of threat, the system 
II-related characteristics such as non-commitment, malevolent impu- 
tation, and denial of responsibility become intensified into antagonism, 
disobedience, and direct aggression. 

In extremely closed system II functioning, the subject experiences 
other people's actions as interfering, interrupting, and disturbing; even 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 293 

minor frustrations lead to excessive oppositional reactions. The height- 
ened sensitization to imposition is accompanied by increased defiance 
of authority, which assumes system-specific reward characteristics. 
In this sense, anti-social actions, such as stealing, can be viewed as a 
validation of "independence." Increased threat in system II produces 
inflexibility of interpretation, which is reflected by an increased tend- 
ency to view external events as interfering or malevolent and expressed 
via excuses, rationalization, and the externalization of blame. 

Since the subject is more clearly differentiated from the source in 
system II, and since directionality of the relatedness (to external con- 
trol) is oppositional, delusions of external control do not occur. Extreme 
system II functioning is characterized by ( 1 ) an absence of mutuality 
or empathy, (2) very little relationship between word and deed (that 
is, the differentiation between the self-system and the external world 
is sufficient for the subject to be aware of realistic goals and to be in- 
dependent from external forces, but action is determined almost com- 
pletely by negativistic interpretations), (3) increased restlessness, 
irritability, and frustration caused by minor barriers, and (4) external- 
ization of blame. 

Under appropriate conditions, extreme closedness of system II can 
be avoided, primarily through minimizing pressures toward depend- 
ency. For example, if such a person could obtain the necessary back- 
ground for an occupation, such as writer, painter, or scientist, which 
minimizes dependency problems, such negativistic and critical dis- 
positions could become assets. However, if the subject cannot utilize 
constructive achievement as an outward expression of negative inde- 
pendence, or if he cannot escape dependence on authoritative or pro- 
tective interference, he is more likely to achieve the same negative ends 
through less socially desirable means. 

Relationship of Extreme System II Functioning 
to Traditional Pathological Syndromes 

What we have described as highly closed system II functioning is 
closely related to the traditional pathological syndromes of psycho- 
pathic personality and delinquency (anti-social behavior). According 
to White (1956) these individuals ". . . have failed to respond ade- 
quately to the process of socialization. . . ." (p. 395). Although this 
may be true in a value sense, from an adaptive point of view the psy- 
chopathic or delinquent individual has learned the system of func- 
tioning that would be expected from certain socialization procedures. 
White illustrates the adaptive significance of such functioning by quot- 
ing from Redl and Wineman ( 1951 ) : "Far from being helpless, the 



294 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

ego of these children is suddenly a rather shrewd appraiser of that 
part of reality which might be dangerous to their impulsive exploits. 
. . ." (Redl and Wineman, 1951, p. 144). However, even from the 
viewpoint of social value, functioning within system II represents an 
attempt, albeit an immature one, to develop internal control, a cir- 
cumstance with some positive significance for both development and 
therapy. The eventual success in handling responsibility and positive 
independence rests upon learning the appropriate modes of dealing 
with negative independence. 

Compared with system I, system II functioning appears more detri- 
mental to society by its aggressiveness and apparent lack of responsi- 
bility. System I personality organization is characterized by narrowness, 
rigidity, and righteousness of categorical thinking; it is accompanied 
by disdain for those who believe differently and who are therefore 
wrong, considered inferior, and destined to a role of permanent sub- 
mission. From our view the human suffering and intellectual constriction 
that result from system I functioning (for example, Nazism and other 
forms of dogmatic thinking and intolerance) may be much more per- 
manently harmful to society than system II functioning, despite society's 
concern with the latter. 

Some of the more typical descriptions of delinquent and psychopathic 
behavior, summarized by White ( 1956 ) , illustrate the general simi- 
larity to what we have described as closed system II functioning: de- 
structiveness, the association between minor frustrations and temper 
tantrums, and overreadiness and skill for providing excuses for mis- 
conduct ( externalization of blame) (Redl and Wineman, 1951); an 
incapacity for a consistent, organized living pattern; an alert, well- 
informed approach that often creates a pleasing impression; a lack of 
responsibility, and a lack of shame or guilt for misconduct; poor judg- 
ment about attaining well-defined realistic ends, which is illustrated 
by the repetition of anti-social behavior over and over again; an in- 
capacity for real love or attachment; and although verbalization re- 
garding self-correction may occur, it is generally nothing more than 
lip service without further involvement ( Cleckley, 1950 ) . 

Because anti-social behavior issuing from system II represents a move 
toward validation of the positive conceptual pole of freedom from de- 
pendence, which in turn rests upon the unilateral negation of source 
control, such anti-social behavior frequently becomes public. We 
would expect system II anti-social behavior to be committed in the 
company of others; if not, we expect that the action would be com- 
municated in a direct or distorted way in order to demonstrate freedom 
from controlling forces through such antagonism. Since denial of 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 295 

dependency is directed against external control, it must be public in 
order to serve its purpose. 

Developmental Antecedents of Extreme 
System II Functioning 

The developmental conditions antecedent to delinquent and psy- 
chopathic behavior syndromes found by a number of investigators 
generally support the association that we have suggested between un- 
reliable unilateral training (including neglect) and system II func- 
tioning. Before considering such evidence, a brief consideration of the 
concept of delinquency is in order. A major shortcoming of most in- 
vestigations of delinquency is the acceptance of a legal, rather than a 
psychological, definition. In the present view we are concerned with 
psychological functioning, that is, individuals whose functioning has 
been described in terms of system II resolutions. Therefore, we do not 
assume that all delinquency or anti-social behavior is based on system 
II relatedness. Anti-social behavior might stem from attempts to main- 
tain relationships and to avoid rejection by peer groups (system III 
relatedness), in which case the social norms would be an important 
antecedent factor. Anti-social behavior in the form of sexual deviations, 
for example, sadistic or masochistic activities, may be based on feelings 
of worthlessness or a wish to dominate (system I relatedness). The 
effect of corrective, punitive, or preventive measures will therefore 
vary according to the system of functioning underlying the anti-social 
behavior. Specifically, if anti-social behavior is anchored in external 
control (system I) or avoidance of rejection (system III), corrective 
measures may be more effective. The incidence of recidivism should 
be higher in anti-social behavior involving system II functioning be- 
cause current social controls are quite ineffective upon this system 
(McDavid and Schroder, 1957). 

Three major sets of etiological factors have been proposed in the 
past as antecedent to delinquency: somatogenic, sociological, and psy- 
chological. 

SOMATOGENIC 

Although the evidence for theories of constitutional inferiority of 
delinquents is not compelling, recent studies do indicate that "delin- 
quent" individuals show significantly more abnormal EEG records than 
control groups (Ellingson, 1954; Hill and Watterson, 1942; and Simons 
and Diethelm, 1946). However, Jenkins and Pacella (1943) found 
that most of the abnormal EEG records in a group of delinquents came 
from a small percentage of the group who were assaultive, irritable, 



296 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

distractible, and poorly controlled. The remaining majority of the 
group whose EEG patterns were normal presented typical delinquent 
symptoms. Central nervous system pathology may be a contributing 
factor (impairment of impulse control mechanisms) or a coincidental 
condition in delinquency as in many other forms of behavior. In general 
the evidence for a constitutional basis of psychopathy is not impressive. 

SOCIOLOGICAL 

Many studies have demonstrated a relationship between the incidence 
of delinquency and some form of social disorganization either in the 
home or in the neighborhood. From the present view, such disorgan- 
ization is seen as a generic form of the unreliable unilateral training 
that leads to arrested system II functioning. Family and neighborhood 
disorganization destroys the child's trust in his parents and in the con- 
trols of society, thereby magnifying his negative "weighting" of the 
source and his use of aggressive resolutions. 

PSYCHOLOGICAL 

To consider the psychological determinants requires that we define 
the generic training conditions underlying system II functioning. We 
noted earlier that overprotective and permissive training produces 
overassertive, disobedient behavior; however, in such cases the counter- 
personal or system II tendencies were counteracted by conflicting system 
III concepts, the conflict being described as a level II transitional 
system, in which anti-social behavior rarely occurs ( Levy, 1943 ) . How- 
ever, as the training becomes more clearly unreliable (that is, more 
indifferent, rejecting, and neglectful) the incidence of delinquency 
increases sharply. In one of the most extensive studies (Glueck and 
Glueck, 1950) that has attempted to relate child-training practices 
to the incidence of delinquency, the following results were obtained: 
In comparison to mothers of non-delinquents, mother of delinquents 
were found to be less warm ( 45 % to 80 % ) ; more overprotective ( 24 % 
to 15% ); much more indifferent (21% to 3% ); and more hostile and 
rejecting (7% to 1% ). A more specific analysis indicated that mothers 
of delinquents were much less likely to be "firm but kind" (4% to 66%); 
much more likely to be lax ( 57 % to 12 % ) ; more likely to be over- 
strict (4% to 1% ); and more likely to be erratic (34% to 21% ). 

It seems necessary to take the indirect-direct dimension of system 
II into account in considering the developmental antecedents. The more 
inhibitive the unreliable training (more control, less indifference and 
neglect), the more that distrust and negative source weighting are 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 297 

based on an indirectly hostile world. Arbitrary or irregular discipline 
or training in which control and punishment are used to demand 
dependency of the child on the parent leads to a strong, unconvicting 
tendency toward viewing the imposition of control as negative. The 
result is that the negativistic tendencies are indirectly expressed. In 
such indirect function there remains a minimum internalization of 
external control as absolute standards ( system I ) and a lack of empathic 
system III control. 

Variation in Directness in Extreme 
System II Functioning 

The major differences between indirect and direct system II func- 
tioning may be summarized as follows. (1) Indirect functioning in- 
volves a greater tendency to portray oneself as benevolent, that is, as 
not malevolent. In order to reduce pressures toward more direct forms 
of negativism the person expressing system II tendencies passively may 
assume a "mask" of conformity or respectability. However, because of 
the relative absence of absolutistic or empathic concepts, these inter- 
personal reactions are extremely tenuous, as observation of psycho- 
pathic persons attests. (2) Indirect functioning is more likely to involve 
passive expression of negativism such as failing to follow directions or 
to hold a job; minor forms of misconduct for which he blames the en- 
vironment; and continual vague feelings of irritability and restlessness. 

These differences indicate that we would associate the traditional 
description of delinquency (and the more direct forms of anti-social 
behavior) with the direct pole, whereas the more psychopathic and 
passive forms of system II functioning would be associated with the 
indirect pole (cf. Ausubel, 1952, for a similar distinction). It should 
be emphasized again that our view of anti-social behavior is not deter- 
mined by a legal definition. 

In system II functioning the indirect-direct dimension is not directly 
related to the progression of onset as was true in system I, mainly 
because the direct expression of system II tendencies is immediately 
recognized as a problem, whereas the more direct expression of system I 
orientations is not so readily recognized. The cultural judgment of 
direct system II functioning, even in its less extreme forms, is less likely 
to be that of "good" adjustment than is true for direct system I func- 
tioning. Consequently, the observer may be surprised by the eruption 
of uncontrolled violence and the increased occurrence of projection, 
delusions, and sadistic tendencies found in "good and obedient" people 
when direct system I functioning becomes extremely closed. On the 



298 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

other hand, the observer would not be so puzzled by extreme hostility 
in system II since the previous functioning was already regarded as 
culturally disagreeable. 

By factorizing forty-five trait-ratings of 500 children, Hewitt and Jenk- 
ins (1946) isolated three factors, two of which appear relevant to 
system II relatedness and lend support to our indirect-direct dimension. 
The first factor is called "unsocialized aggressive behavior" and is 
comprised of traits such as assertive tendencies, initiative, fighting, 
and defiance of authority, which generally corresponds to direct system 
II functioning. The second factor was referred to as "socialized delin- 
quent behavior" and included traits such as having bad companions, 
gang activities, cooperative stealing, school truancy, running away from 
home, and staying out late at night, which seems to be representative 
of the indirect pole of system II functioning. Hewitt and Jenkins also 
included a factorial analysis of environmental characteristics asso- 
ciated with each dimension of anti-social behavior. "Unsocialized 
aggressive behavior" was associated with unwanted pregnancy, mother 
unwilling to accept parent role, mother hostile to child, whereas 
"socialized delinquent behavior" was found to be associated with 
unkempt home, irregular home routine, discipline harsh, mother shield- 
ing, and so forth. As we would expect, the more direct functioning was 
associated with a more directly hostile or neglectful environment con- 
sisting of social and familial disorganization (less inhibition of ag- 
gression), lack of warmth, and rejection. The more indirect functioning 
was found to be associated with a mixture of familial irregularity and 
harsh, but shielding, parental attitudes. The combination of harsh and 
shielding training practices, representing an indirectly hostile environ- 
ment, which particularly exemplifies what we have referred to as the 
inhibitive form of unreliable unilateral training, has also been stressed 
by Aichorn ( 1935 ) as an antecedent of delinquent behavior. 

Threat within System III 

Nature and Effect of Threat in System 111 

Threat within system III occurs in situations perceived as leading to 
increasing pressures toward autonomy, or toward separation that is 
interpreted as rejection. The following characteristics of system III 
functioning may be recapitulated: (1) closedness to autonomy, (2) 
sensitization to interpersonal relationships (which leads to seeking 
approval and support while avoiding disapproval or rejection), (3) 
the equating of rejection and personal failure, and (4) increasing in- 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 299 

ternal causation. Increased threat produces the general effect of closing 
the system to alternate (non system-specific) evaluation, of increasing 
sensitization to rejection, and of increasing the tendency to interpret 
events in terms of acceptance-rejection. In the extreme case, function- 
ing is characterized by a single interpretive schema of exaggerated self- 
reference, which may be seen as "psychotic." However, the effects of 
increasing closedness of system III are considerably different from the 
consequences of threat in systems I and II. Because system III func- 
tioning is more abstract, its extreme forms are less inflexible so that 
even extreme functioning in system III appears to be more reality- 
oriented and the effects of threat are less generalized than in the more 
concrete systems. 

A major effect of threat within system III, which differentiates it 
from extreme forms of systems I and II, is the increased self-blame and 
feelings of worthlessness. Because system III operates more within a 
framework of internal causation, threat in the form of potential rejection 
is likely to lead the person to blame himself for his failure to sustain the 
relationship. 

The tendency toward self-blame and feelings of worthlessness is 
especially likely to occur in indirect svstem III functioning. Direct 
resolutions more consistently include conformity operations through 
anticipating and adopting the standards of others, maneuvering others 
into a position requiring their support, and denying rejection by the 
outward portrayal of confidence and ability 7 as a means of gaining sup- 
port. However, if these expressions do not achieve the desired conse- 
quences, self-blame is likely to occur. Resolutions based on the more 
passive systems involve what may be described as "exaggerated in- 
competence" or helplessness in order to evoke protective reactions from 
others. 

Since feelings of worthlessness emanating from internalizing blame 
may lead to suicide under extreme conditions, we would expect rel- 
atively more suicides in svstem III. Conversely, the occurrence of 
homicide would be most likely associated with system I and II func- 
tioning because of the externalization of blame. The hypothesized re- 
lationship between system III internalization and suicide as well as 
the relation of system I and II externalization with homicide is in 
essential agreement with one of the major hypotheses of Henry and 
Short (1954) that receives general support from their sociological 
studies: 

... the degree of legitimization of other-oriented aggression consequent 
to aggression varies positively with the strength of external restraint over 
behavior. When behavior is required to conform rigidly to the demands 



300 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

and expectations of others (when external restraints are strong), the ex- 
pression of aggression against others is legitimized. When external restraints 
are weak, other-oriented aggression consequent to frustration fails to be 
legitimized and the aggression is directed against the self (Henry and 
Short, 1954, p. 18). 

Homicide is inhibited in stage III related systems by the strong orien- 
tation toward interpersonal relationships. Suicide would be inhibited 
in system I by the tendency to "blame the external" for perceived short- 
comings and the lack of internal causation. In system II we would expect 
both calculated and impulsive homicides in response to generalized or 
intense threat. Since system IV involves a greater tolerance for stress 
both suicide and homicide are less likely among representatives of this 
system than in other systems of functioning. 

In addition to these system-related expectations regarding homicide 
and suicide, we expect that both forms would be more likely in direct 
expression. Indirect systems generally involve displacement, which in 
system I takes the form of displaced or indirect externally-oriented 
hostility, and in system III takes the form of threatened or unsuccessful 
attempts at suicide (which implicitly demand support). In contrast, 
direct systems take the form of actual homicide or suicide, and in keep- 
ing with the acute or reactive nature of extreme direct functioning, such 
reactions occur quite suddenly. Thus, while homicide should occur 
relatively more frequently in direct system I functioning, suicide should 
occur relatively more frequently in direct system III functioning. 1 

Another effect of threat in system III is increased "jealousy." When 
socially accommodating efforts are unsuccessful, the individual is 
likely to experience some resentment toward others because of their 
lack of support or approval. These feelings of resentment towards 
others (usually observed in suicidal tendencies) will be especially 
strong in direct forms of system III, since socially accommodating re- 
sponses have been relatively successful in the past. However, owing to 
the strong self-blame orientation and the tendency to maintain sup- 
portive relationships, outward expression is inhibited. The experience 
of resentment merely increases the threat, which in turn decreases the 
subject's participation and increases his withdrawal and helplessness. 
In contrast to more concrete systems, threat in system III is experienced 
as inadequacy of one's own behavior or in terms of one's failing to 
maintain the support of others. Increased closedness in this system is 

1 Suicide, of course, could also occur in any of the systems. For example, if 
absolutistic control and feelings of guilt in system I became intense, suicide might 
result. We are here simply maintaining which form of functioning seems most 
closely associated with these two destructive reactions. 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 301 

associated with heightened sensitization to rejection, intensified feel- 
ings of aloneness, and greater fears of inability to cope with situations. 
In the extreme form of system III functioning all events are interpreted 
in terms of self-worthlessness. 

Relationship of Extreme System 111 
Functioning to Traditional 
Pathological Syndromes 

The highly closed form of system described above is closely related 
to depressive reactions. Ausubel (1952) observes that depression is 
more closely related to anxiety states than are other classes of pathology. 
As indicated in Table 24, we would agree with this similarity since we 
view both disorders as extreme forms of relatively abstract systems of 
functioning that involve internal causation. 

Although apparently withdrawn, the depressed person is more 
reality-oriented and integrated than the schizophrenic person. Bowman 
and Raymond ( 1931 ) have shown that delusions are absent in approx- 
imately 10 per cent of schizophrenic patients and about 42 per cent of 
depressed patients, which may reflect among other things the greater 
reality orientation of depressive behavior. These percentages are 
meaningful only if the criteria of diagnosis are clear lv specified; there 
is often considerable confusion in distinguishing between depression 
and some forms of simple schizophrenia, expecially when both are 
characterized by extreme withdrawal. Regardless of phenotypic sim- 
ilarity, for example, withdrawal, we would emphasize the importance 
of using a more genotypic basis for differential diagnosis, or in this 
case, the differential locus of causality (internal versus external orien- 
tation). Projection, delusions of external control, and the diffuseness 
of the differentiation between the self and absolutistic control should 
be relatively absent in extreme system III functioning, that is, in de- 
pressive reactions. 

Highly closed forms of system III functioning are characterized by 

(1) dependence upon others (as opposed to absolutistic concepts), 

(2) internal control, and (3) self -blame. A study of depressives by 
Schiffman (1960) using the Picture Arrangement Test (Tomkins and 
Miner, 1957) supports this contention. Compared to normal persons, 
the depressive patients were found to be ( 1 ) more sociophilic and orally 
dependent, (2) more self-confident that their own efforts would be 
causal in "winning over" a hostile or indifferent group and in winning 
praise from a source through their own work efforts, and (3) more 
pessimistic. 

Although depressive and manic states generally occur alone, they 



302 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

may occur in alternating forms in the same patient. Our view is that 
the depressive and manic reactions parallel the system-specific reso- 
lutions of exaggeration of incompetence and denial of rejection, re- 
spectively. Other authors (Lewin, 1950; White, 1956) also have viewed 
the manic reaction as a form of denial. Many investigators have noted 
the similarity between mania and the elated state that may occur follow- 
ing bereavement. In this sense, elation or mania may be viewed as a 
counteraction to depression, a denial of feelings of depression. From our 
viewpoint both depression and mania are two different expressions of 
the same underlying form of relatedness (highly closed system III). 
An example of extreme closedness found in a depressive and manic 
state in the same person is given by Beers (1931). In the depressive 
condition any event, no matter how remote or unrelated, was inter- 
preted pessimistically as validating his unworthiness. Precisely the 
opposite occurred in the manic state. According to Rado ( 1951 ) : 

. . . the depressive spell is a desperate cry for love precipitated by an actual 
or imagined loss which the patient feels endangers his emotional (and 
material) security. In the simplest case the patient has lost his beloved one. 
... By blaming and punishing himself for the loss he has suffered, he now 
wishes to reconcile the mother and to reinstate himself in her loving 
care. . . . 

However, the patient's dominant motivation of repentance is complicated 
by the simultaneous presence of a strong resentment. As far as his guilty 
fear goes, he is humble and yearns to repent; as far as his coercive rage 
goes, he is resentful. 

In the forephase of the depressive spell the patient tends to vent his 
resentment on the beloved person, the one by whom he feels "let down" 
or deserted. He wants to force this person to love him. When the patient 
feels that his coercive rage is defeated, his need for repentance gains the 
upper hand; his rage then recoils and turns inward against him, increasing 
by its vehemence the severity of his self-reproaches and self -punishments. 
As a superlative bid for forgiveness, the patient may thus be driven to 
suicide (Rado, 1951, pp. 51-52). 

We view the phrase, "his rage recoils and turns inward against him" 
(Rado, 1951, p. 52), in terms of internal causation since this rage is 
rarely expressed directly toward others, even in agitated forms of de- 
pression. Rado ( 1951 ) continually emphasizes the relationship between 
feelings of loss of affection and depression, and he views depressive 
behavior as an extreme effort to gain the support of others. White 
(1956) also observed that the "weak spot in these otherwise healthy 
personalities is this dependence on a high income of supporting love" 
(White, 1956, p. 528). An intensive study of the adjustive techniques 
used by manic-depressive patients complements this suggestion in its 
indication that these patients may skillfully utilize an ability to manip- 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 303 

ulate others into a position requiring that they provide emotional sup- 
port to the subject (Cohen, Baker, Cohen, Fromm-Reichmann, and 
Weiger, 1954). These observations generally support our assumed 
similarity between the depressive syndrome and extreme forms of sys- 
tem III functioning. 

Developmental Antecedents of Extreme 
System HI Functioning 

Unlike the extreme forms of functioning discussed in systems I and 
II, there is little direct evidence in the literature on the relationship 
between antecedent training practices and predisposition to depres- 
sive reactions. This dearth of evidence may in part be due to the fact 
that protective training (which we propose as antecedent to system III 
functioning) is less apparently negative than some other training prac- 
tices. However, most investigators associate depressive reactions with 
training that sensitizes the subject to fear of aloneness, disapproval, 
and rejection. Rado (1951) describes depression as "feelings of loss 
of affection" and stresses the point that such exaggerated feelings are 
due to a reactivation of such childhood fears. Protective interdependent 
training emphasizes this sensitization, which may become even more 
severe if this training is combined with such situational factors as 
"separation" (see Chapter 4). 

The evidence relating to the development of highly closed system III 
functioning or depression as here defined, comes primarily from re- 
action to stress in critical situations. We expect situations that lead to 
increased pressures toward autonomy to produce closed svstem III 
functioning (as this leads to a fear of rejection or the fear of "letting 
others down"). 

Results described by Grinker and Spiegel (1945) provide supportive 
evidence in their delineation of two types of personality organizations 
that predispose men toward depressive reactions under combat stress. 

. . . The passive-dependent person is most likely to feel depressed on 
separation from the group and to react with depression at home on frustra- 
tion of his need for gratification. On the other hand, the compulsive-obsessive 
personality reacts most readily to the loss of a buddy in combat, to poor 
living conditions and to deviations from smooth-running performances. 
These men show marked repetition compulsions which force them to re- 
create the family circle with all their tenderness and hostility displaced to 
the military group. Officers become fathers, comrades are brothers, almost 
at first sight. Loss of these loved objects, toward whom quantities of un- 
conscious hostility are harbored, disturbs the whole psychological equilib- 
rium of the individual. In these cases the unconscious hostility evokes guilt 
and selfpunishment. 



304 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

In most of these cases the mourned person is one toward whom the 
patient has had a great deal of repressed hostility. In every case it can be 
determined that the mourned person was one with whom the patient had 
identified, or who represented a figure to which he had been ambivalent. 
Depression, however, is not always based on the actual loss or death of a 
person (Grinker and Spiegel, 1945, pp. 304-306). 

The passive-dependent persons described by Grinker and Spiegel 
presumably function in ways similar to extreme system III functioning, 
whereas the obsessive-compulsive syndrome they describe would be 
presently regarded as an extreme form of the level I transitional system 
discussed later in this chapter. As Grinker and Spiegel's observations 
indicate, reaction to stress is determined both by situational (nature of 
stress) and dispositional (personality organization) factors. The nature 
of stress in combat situations is apparently especially potent in inducing 
anxiety or depressive reactions in obsessive-compulsive and dependent 
individuals. However, the similarity of the behavior (depressive type 
responses) does not, of course, necessarily indicate a similar etiology. 
Grinker and Spiegel's (1945) analysis indicates that not only are the 
predisposing personality organizations dissimilar but also that con- 
ditions within the combat situation produce a differential effect upon 
these personality organizations. Contemporaneous situational factors 
that emphasize separation fears, aloneness, autonomy, and rejection 
are, in our view, just as important as the long-term effects produced by 
protective interdependent training that sensitizes a person to separation 
fears, aloneness, and rejection. 

We have indicated earlier that the internal causation orientation in 
system III leads us to expect a higher incidence of suicide in persons 
with system III structures. This likelihood is enhanced when the envi- 
ronmental situation augments separation fear. Although direct evidence 
regarding such dispositional and situational information is not available, 
Henry and Short ( 1954 ) have presented sociological evidence showing 
that the incidence of suicide is highest in the unmarried, residents of 
cities, inhabitants of high mobility areas such as rooming houses, and 
homeless men. 

Variation in Directness in Extreme 
System III Functioning 

We have already indicated that indirect expression in extreme system 
III functioning is associated with the progressive development of 
milder forms of depression or passive dependency, whereas direct 
expression characterizes the more reactive and severe forms of depres- 
sion of sudden onset. We expect indirect forms of expression to be more 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 305 

often associated with lower intelligence levels, greater protection during 
training, and inadequacies in social skills, resulting from excessive pro- 
tection and isolation from peers. In extreme system III functioning, 
indirect reactions include: (1) increased dependency behaviors, (2) 
increased suggestibility to social pressures, and (3) exaggerated in- 
competence, including helplessness and illness as ways of avoiding 
aloneness. Fake attempts at suicide might be employed as attention- 
getting devices, and the mood would be characterized by dejection. 

Direct expression is also characterized by behavior that evokes sup- 
port from others, but this behavior is more outgoing and will appear 
superficially as more "independent." Rather than rely upon the exagger- 
ation of inadequacies or helplessness, the person who employs direct 
system III concepts is more likely to enlist support from others through 
maneuvers that gratify or validate these other persons. In an attitude 
change study (Janicki, I960; it was found that individuals predisposed 
to system III tended to (a) conform and (b) announce their judgments 
quickly, after they become aware of their partner's standard. Such 
strategies present a mask of "independence" and at the same time aim 
to insure acceptance. Individuals disposed toward system III may 
live quite successful lives, may present an outward show of respon- 
sibility and independence, and may be very "popular." However, under 
conditions of extreme system-specific threat, feelings of worthlessness 
occur. In direct "successful" system III functioning, the occurrence of 
extreme threat is experienced as more severe by the subject than in 
indirect functioning. For similar reasons, the subject's behavior appears 
strikingly different to an observer since the subject's expression of 
worthlessness, which stems from the threat, is quite disparate from the 
earlier behavioral baseline of accommodation and apparent "independ- 
ence" in direct system III functioning. 

Tentative evidence suggests that the denial of rejection ( as a response 
on a situational interpretation measure ) occurs most frequently in sub- 
jects who rate themselves as more successful than a liked person who 
becomes the source of disapproval (Schroder and Hunt, 1959). This 
relationship might be taken as very tentative evidence indicating that 
manic states, or the more general elated moods, would be more prev- 
alent in the more direct stage III systems. 

Certain situational and physiological factors have been noted to 
produce depressive reaction: bereavement, menopause, changes in 
estrogen cycles, retirement, and so forth. We would contend that these 
psychological and physiological determinants are similar in that they 
all produce a heightened sensitization to rejection and other system 
III orientations. 



306 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Nature and Effect of Threat 
in Transitional Systems 

Threat within transitional systems increases the degree of conflict 
between two unintegrated and opposing systems of relatedness. How- 
ever, the threat within transitional systems does not lead to increasing 
closedness since the conflicting influences of each form of relatedness 
act as a check on movement toward complete closedness (or psy- 
chosis). Threat within transitional systems increases conflict and its 
associated fearful anticipations, avoidance, and overcompensation, an 
effect we see as similar to the neuroses. 

Before proceeding we shall briefly recapitulate the logic involved 
in deriving the extreme resolutions of the three transitional dimen- 
sions. 

1. Transitional systems are characterized by conflicting forms of 
subject-object relatedness. Since we have argued that development 
progresses in a given order, the course of progression defines the nature 
of transitional arrestation. 

2. Transitional systems represent a conflict between one stage of 
development and the next most abstract stage; this may be viewed as 
a double approach-avoidant conflict. 

3. Two general modes of resolution are open: to increase the approach 
toward one pole or to increase the compartmentalization between poles. 
The former may be accomplished either by (a) avoiding or neutraliz- 
ing situations that lead to the more direct expression of one pole, or by 
(b) adopting compensatory resolutions that bolster the more direct 
expression of one of the conflicting poles. These mechanisms are not 
mutually exclusive; either or both may occur. In either case — avoidance 
or overcompensation — the result is to increase the positive quality of 
one pole, thus maximizing positive affect. 

An increase in the degree of compartmentalization may be achieved 
by strengthening or intensifying the boundary between the two con- 
flicting systems until it becomes almost impermeable so that the conflict 
is "blocked off." In this case each system becomes tied to certain situ- 
ations that provide the setting ( or stimuli ) for its operation. The indi- 
vidual thus may fluctuate between aggressive oppositional behavior 
and dependent obsessive responses depending on the situation but with- 
out awareness or integration of these discriminations. The more equal 
the centrality of the two conflicting systems, the greater is the compart- 
mentalization. 

4. Increased pressures toward expression of the less directly expressed 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 307 

pole increase conflict and lead to the accompanying occurrence of 
avoidant and/or overcompensatory resolutions. 

5. Since transitional systems involve two competing systems, the 
resulting resolutions differ from those emanating from either one of 
the two nodal systems because they represent the tempering, modifying 
effects of both systems. Avoidance and overcompensation are therefore 
viewed as the net resultant of two systems in conflict. 

6. Avoidant and overcompensatory resolutions take different forms 
at different transitional levels. Overcompensatory resolutions may in- 
volve symptoms such as overcautiousness and ritualistic behavior at 
level I and overassertiveness at level II. It is not always possible to 
distinguish between avoidant and overcompensatory resolutions since 
both may function simultaneously, for example, compulsions enhance 
the avoidance of negativistic tendencies while representing an over- 
driven tendency toward agreement with an absolute standard. 

7. Transitional arrestation may involve either a greater directness 
of the more concrete pole, which we refer to as direct expression, or 
greater relative overtness of the more abstract and less well articulated 
system, which we refer to as indirect expression (see Table 23 on pp. 
276-277). 

From the principles just summarized we derive the system-specific 
effects of threat at each of the three transitional levels. Before proceed- 
ing, however, we may note that at more abstract levels we would expect 
(1) a greater tolerance of threat, (2) less generalization of threat 
effects, and (3) greater self-awareness. 

Threat at each transitional level is considered in terms of both the 
direct and indirect poles of the transitional dimensions. We also relate 
the resolutions of extreme transitional conflict to traditional patho- 
logical syndromes and indicate the overall nature of each transitional 
dimension. 



Threat within Level I Systems 

Direct Level I Systems (Level I [A > B] Systems) 

Maximum threat within the more direct level I (level I [A > B] ) 
systems is defined as extreme pressure toward expressing negativistic 
or oppositional tendencies, or pressure toward abandoning an absolute 
criterion (Table 26). Threat in direct level I systems is produced by 
ambiguity, by situations producing hostility or distrust toward relevant 
power sources, or by circumstances requiring the subject to rebel 
against absolute standards. The "anti-social" or negativistic tendencies 



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EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 309 

produced by such system-specific threat are in direct conflict with the 
absolutistic criteria and rigid standards of right and wrong that char- 
acterize system I. Pressures toward oppositional expression are threaten- 
ing in system I functioning also, of course, but the effect of such pres- 
sures upon level I functioning is to intensify the conflict rather than to 
close the system, as occurs in system I. 

As Table 26 indicates, level I resolutions involve the use of phobic 
reactions, isolation, and withdrawal to avoid situations that produce 
such oppositional tendencies. These reactions are supported by the 
subject's feelings that others may inflict harm ( fear of the consequences 
of oppositional impulses ) or that he may harm others ( oppositional or 
hostile tendencies ) . Essentially there is a fear that he may harm others 
and also the fear of alienating or destroying external sources of support. 
The latter is probably a main basis for children's anxieties about their 
own oppositional and hostile impulses, that is, the fear that their rage 
will destroy those on whom they must depend. 

Conflict in level I ( A > B ) systems may also be expressed indirectly 
through obsessional wishes and behavior. Overcompensative resolutions 
deal with pressures toward negativism in any of the following ways: 
excessive kindness and politeness, suppression of anger, acceptance of 
tradition orientation, excessive concern about achievement, and ex- 
treme orderliness in order to avoid doubt. This pattern of resolutions 
is quite similar to descriptions of obsessive-compulsive neurosis. The 
indirect oppositional tendencies represent the obsessive wishes whereas 
the more direct compensatory and avoidance resolutions are represented 
by the compulsive symptoms. White (1956) expresses the essential 
nature of this functioning as follows : 

Close scrutiny of the contents of obsessive symptoms shows that they can 
be classified under two headings: (1) Part of the symptoms give expression 
to aggressive and sexual impulses. Murderous hostility, destructiveness, 
dirtiness, and sexual urges in a crude and violent form reveal themselves in 
the content of obsessional thoughts. It is as if the suppressed antisocial im- 
pulses returned in this guise to plague the patient. (2) The rest of the 
symptoms give expression to self-corrective tendencies. Orderliness, rituals, 
cleanliness, propitiatory acts, self-imposed duties, and punishments all testify 
to the patient's need to counteract and set right his antisocial tendencies. 
Guilt feelings are his almost constant companions. Perhaps he reads in the 
paper about a murder that was committed many miles away. So strong is his 
guilt that he becomes obsessed with the idea that he committed the murder 
and deserves terrible punishment. The division of the symptoms into these 
two classes, antisocial impulses and self-corrective tendencies gives an im- 
mediate insight into the nature of the underlying conflict. Nowhere is the 
Freudian concept of the super-ego more applicable. The childish conception 



310 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

of evil joins battle with the childish conception of righteousness and punish- 
ment (White, 1956, pp. 280-281). 

Indirect Level I Systems: Level I (B > A) Systems 

Maximum threat within indirect level I functioning occurs in situ- 
ations that increase pressure to submit to external control (Table 26). 
Though this control has been associated with negative consequences, it 
nonetheless (at indirect level I) exerts sufficient influence to prevent 
the direct expression of oppositional tendencies, since absolute control 
and opposition to external control have never been integrated. However, 
the expression of negativistic tendencies comes to be more dominant 
for a person who has never articulated internal control and fears the 
punishing consequences of external control. For a child to integrate 
poles A and B, parental behavior must include a benign form of authority 
emphasizing love of plus parental tolerance for the expression of op- 
positional exploration in the child. Parental training that is to some ex- 
tent punitive and unreliable promotes oppositional tendencies that are 
accompanied by fear to express them directly. Such training would be 
expected to both prevent the direct expression of system I resolutions 
and promote the indirect passive-aggressive resolutions of level I 
(B>A). 

Resolutions at this level involve the avoidance of authoritative situ- 
ations and an increase in the passive, covert expression of system II 
tendencies. External control may be avoided by isolation and with- 
drawal, but, if such avoidance is impossible, compensatory activity 
becomes more likely. As controlling pressures increase, highly modified 
(covert or indirect) negativism and contrariness occur. If controlling 
pressures increase further, the resolutions become even more indirect 
and symbolic, developing to the point where they provide what may be 
referred to as immunity to control. Examples of such extreme resolutions 
are inhibition of eating (anorexia nervosa), inhibition of speaking, and 
inhibition of effective performance ( underachievement ) . 

Levy (1955) has studied a large number of cases involving such 
negativistic syndromes, and he views reactions or symptoms such as 
failure at school, anorexia nervosa, parent-child antagonisms, obesity, 
speech problems, and "paralysis" as protective devices against compli- 
ance. Anorexia nervosa is much more common in females than males 
(Levy, 1955; Rose, 1943), and according to Rose the onset is particularly 
associated with the beginnings of certain developmental stages, for 
example, entrance into school, onset of puberty. If such a transitional 
problem occurred in early development we would expect it to recur in 
the early phases (at stage II) of other developmental sequences. Levy 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 311 

also observed the relationship between negativistic syndromes and 
tendencies toward compulsive behaviors, which, as we noted in Table 
26, are currently viewed as pathological reactions at about the same 
level of abstractness. A case quoted from Levy (1955) exemplifies what 
we have referred to as level I covert neuroses. 

... a twelve-year-old boy was referred because he was making just 
passing marks in school in spite of a superior intelligence. In that regard 
he was unusually consistent, from the first grade to the seventh. In time, he 
told me that it took lots of planning to manage never to fail and yet never 
make more than a passing mark. On occasion his parents hired a tutor to 
help him with his work. The patient soon learned how to dissipate the tutor's 
efforts by getting him to talk about certain subjects that claimed his 
interest. 

His difficult}' in accepting his studies began presumably as a revolt against 
his mother for sending him to nursery school. At that time he put up a 
feeble protest, though he felt it deeply as an act of abandonment. His 
revenge took the special form of negativism I have described — a revenge of 
withholding from his mother, whose own scholastic achievement had been 
high, the gift of good marks in school. The bov was otherwise a dutiful son. 
His negativism for school work was never quite overcome. It became a 
system from which he could never extricate himself. He was graduated from 
college and a professional school, though only with passing marks. Today 
he is married and holds an important executive position. 

At the time of referral there was evidence of rather compulsive neatness, 
ritualistic behavior and generally an overly organized personality. He had 
gone through a long period of resistance in infancy. His mother had the 
highest standards of ethical behavior and housekeeping (Levy, 1955, pp. 
220-221). 

Overall Characteristics of 
Extreme Level I Functioning 

Although we have noted several differences between direct and in- 
direct level I transitional systems, there are also similarities. Both in- 
volve a conflict between external control and opposition to external 
control. In both, this conflict is generally characterized by various forms 
of negativism, rigidity, withdrawal, orderliness, rituals, constriction, and 
compulsive behavior. When conflict produces extreme compartmental- 
ization (multiple personality), functioning alternates between system 
I (being obedient and proper) and system II (rebelliousness and inde- 
pendence ) . 

In comparing and contrasting these two degrees of directness, we 
may note finally that in certain respects the direct level I system is 
similar to stage I functioning whereas the indirect level I system is 
similar to stage II (see Table 14). Thus, indirect level I functioning, 
like stage II functioning, may involve a lack of concern regarding 



312 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

achievement, repression or the avoidance of failure, excessively high 
self-evaluation, and a failure to assimilate cultural standards. All of 
these resolutions contrast sharply with those expected in relation to 
stage I or from direct level I functioning. 



Threat within Level II Systems 

Direct Level II Systems: Level II (C > D) Systems 

Maximum threat in direct level II transitional systems (level II 
[C > D] systems) is produced by situations that increase the pressure 
toward highly direct expression of dependency or the need for support 
(Table 27). In direct level II systems the conflict is experienced and 
dealt with through a modified system II conceptual structure. At this 
level the individual tends to seek and display independent, self-sufficient 
resolutions and to avoid dependent situations, behavior, and appear- 
ances. These differentiated tendencies are relative, not all-or-none. 
Dependency or helplessness is threatening because of a distrust of 
dependent relationships and from an expectation that dependent hopes 
will not be fulfilled. The subject has experienced in development what 
we have referred to as the "inevitable meeting of failure" in accelerated 
autonomous training, and will therefore fear the consequences of the 
exhibition of inadequacy. In this system situations that could indicate 
helplessness, inadequacy, or dependency are avoided or neutralized by 
resolutions such as rationalization; denial of failure; repression of failure 
(Rosenzweig and Sarason, 1942); maintenance of an inflated image of 
the self; the adoption and the assertive utilization of the total role of 
another person (in the place of dependency). And (in very extreme 
forms ) the denial of dependent or sexual wishes can appear in the form 
of organ paralysis such as conversion symptoms. Overcompensative res- 
olutions include the excessive portrayal of independence ( pseudo-inde- 
pendence); outgoingness; "showing off," and other extraverted char- 
acteristics. In this sense optimism is to the direct level II systems as 
overdriven compulsive achievement is to the direct level I systems. 

This symptom syndrome closely parallels the traditional description 
of hysteria or hysterical personality. The histories of hysterical patients 
include traits such as narrow interests, sex anomalies, low energy level, 
lack of interest in group membership ties, and extraversion (Eysenck, 
1955 ) . In keeping with the expected relationship between direct level 
II systems ( hysteria ) and stage II tendencies, Eysenck found no tend- 
ency for hysterical patients to be suggestible and, if anything, tended 
to be slightly countersuggestible. Other characteristics of hysteria sum- 



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314 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

marized by White ( 1956 ) include a concern about acceptance, tend- 
encies toward repression, impulsiveness, tendencies to dramatize, readi- 
ness to identify ( diffuseness of role and taking over of the total role of 
another), and immaturity. White lists dependency, love, and sex as 
the critical issues in the hysteric's life and neurosis. Although we have 
not emphasized it, this view is consistent with the almost universal 
clinical findings that hysterics show specific conflicts over sexual be- 
havior. These conflicts (which are similar to the oedipal-conflict situ- 
ation ) relate back to inadequately integrated concepts for dealing with 
dependence. Dependency wishes originally toward the parents and later 
toward others, particularly when they take the form of sexual wishes, 
are highly threat provoking. Finally, Erikson (1950) places the predis- 
position to hysteria in the same transitional stage of development that 
our analysis suggests, and concludes: 

In adults, where once hysteria was the usual form of pathological regres- 
sion in this area, a plunge into psychosomatic disease is now common. I 
think that this direct attack on the organism itself can be attributed to a 
weakness in underlying trust which makes autonomy bothersome and 
facilitates a partial regression to the stage of weak homeostasis. It is as if 
the culture had made a man over-advertize himself and sincerely identify 
with his own advertisement, while he knew all along that his mother never 
believed in it (Erikson, 1950, p. 226). 

Indirect Level II Systems: Level II (D > C) Systems 

Maximum conflict and threat within indirect level II (D > C) sys- 
tems occur in situations that indicate a high potentiality for the loss 
of support or care (Table 27). Although the conflict is between self- 
sufficiency versus dependency as was true in the more direct systems, in 
indirect systems the need to be cared for is more central. Increasing 
anxiety is aroused by situations that induce feelings of failure, that are 
interpreted either as rejection or as a limitation on the subject's capacity 
to "purchase" dependency. This greater anxiety leads to the more ex- 
treme forms of resolution. 

Compensatory resolutions here take the form of overdriven activity 
directed toward eventual dependency satisfaction. The subject's aim is 
to insure being cared for and evaluated positively, as he was by his 
parents in their undifferentiated permissive training practices. Because 
of the modulating effects of prior dependency conflicts (system II) 
behavior at this level (indirect level II) and in system II does not in- 
volve the direct seeking of support. Though support is the most central 
goal it is sought in indirect and distorted ways. Under high degrees of 
threat these may include hypochondriasis and overdriven striving 
("assertive" or "competitive" achievement) in which the underlying 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 315 

aim is to gain supportive responses from others. Other typical indirect 
resolutions include the "jolly good fellow" who seeks support by assertive 
sociality, the clown, and the Arthur Miller salesman, whose assertive — 
even rapacious — aggressiveness marks a desperate need for security, 
protection, and approval. 

Unlike the more non-conflicting stage III systems, such transitional 
functioning is not dependent in a "personal" sense. The empathic or 
mutual qualities of system III are relatively lacking in indirect level 
II functioning; the market analogy approach to interpersonal relations 
is more appropriate for these transitional systems. 1 Thus, dependency 
is experienced at this level more in terms of a commoditv that can be 
purchased through assertive achievement. Such individuals are overly 
anxious to portray themselves as successful and to demand attention. 
interest, and admiration. 

This symptom complex has not been as explicitly classified in tra- 
ditional psychopathological categories. However, many investigators 
have observed the expected relationship between hypochondriasis and 
concern about group membership (Erikson, 1950. Eysenck. 1955). 
Though indirect, there is evidence to suggest a relationship between 
overdriven, competitive activity in indirect level II svstems and the 
incidence of peptic ulcer. Alexander ( 1934 ) reported that although 
peptic ulcer patients may be outwardly competitive and striving, they 
are nonetheless strongly motivated toward dependency and support. 
According to Alexander, a conditioned association is established be- 
tween dependency longings and acid secretions in the stomach during 
early feeding experiences. Consequently, when dependent longings 
become intense so that most situations are experienced as non-gratify- 
ing, increasing acidity would be expected. To the extent that depend- 
ency longings and increasing acidity are related, we can expect an as- 
sociation between indirect level II transitional systems and peptic ulcer 
because these individuals are more highly sensitized toward such de- 
pendency longings. 

Overall Characteristics of Extreme 
Level II Functioning 

Both direct and indirect systems on the level II transitional dimen- 
sion are characterized by some degree of conflict between independent 
self-sufficiency and the need for care and support. At a slightly higher 
level of generality, the resolutions associated with direct and indirect 
level II expression are similar in that both involve a concern about 

1 Fromm's "marketing orientation" referred to in Chapter 7 seems even more 
applicable to indirect level II functioning than to arrested system III functioning. 



316 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

relationships and group membership, the consequent denial of inade- 
quacy, and avoidance of exhibiting such inadequacy. 

In the direct systems, dependent relationships have been unsatisfying 
or painful, and the individual is motivated to rely on independent be- 
havior, avoiding the threat of dependency. Though there may be under- 
lying (repressed) longings for dependency, these are too threatening 
for expression and have been largely abandoned. In indirect systems, 
the dependency motivation is stronger and is expressed, but in disguised 
form. The disguise has developed from experiences that associated de- 
pendency rewards ( for example, parental approval ) with achievement 
or the independent-appearing behavior. We would expect a history of 
sudden shift from permissive training to parental or societal emphasis 
on school achievement in the backgrounds of many persons whose func- 
tioning typically engages indirect level II systems. If tendencies to 
dependence and independence are both highly central, the most likely 
resolution is that of compartmentalization. In contrast to level I, com- 
partmentalization within the level II transitional dimension will involve 
the denial and repression of experiences evaluated as exhibiting inade- 
quacy. Dissociated states appear to be typical of extreme level II 
compartmentalization as the following case quoted by White (1956) 
from a report by Geleerd, Hacker, Rapaport (1945) illustrates: 

A man of twenty-nine had developed a high ideal of independence and 
manliness. He had been induced, however, to take work in his father-in-law's 
business, where he found himself dissatisfied and poorly paid. He was some- 
times unable to meet family expenses and was greatly humiliated to be 
extricated by his father-in-law on these occasions. One day, again in diffi- 
culties, he drove with his family to the town where his father-in-law lived, 
but could not bring himself to ask for the needed loan and turned the car 
homeward. He became so preoccupied with the thought of finding a new 
job and making money, that by the time he reached home he no longer 
knew who he was nor recognized his wife and children in the car. Taken to 
the hospital, he spoke only of his new job. He falsified reality to the extent 
of interpreting everything in the hospital as though it were the operation 
of a business firm. Two days later he emerged spontaneously into his 
normal state, not remembering the amnesic episode. Shortly afterward he 
recalled the episode, including the suicidal despair that had filled him at the 
thought of asking his father-in-law for more help (White, 1956, p. 289). 

Similarities between Extreme Resolutions 
in Level I and II Transitional Systems 

Extreme resolutions emerging from indirect (B > A) level I and 
direct (C > D) level II transitional systems are similar in that both 
involve system II tendencies. However, the similarity is highly generic 
because the system II concepts are in conflict with different conceptual 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 317 

structures at the two levels (either system I or system III), so that the 
conflict is expressed differently in each case. There is also a less obvious 
and more generic similarity between direct ( A > B ) level I transitional 
systems and indirect ( D > C ) level II transitional systems, since both 
these cases involve threat from increasing negativistic or system II 
pressures. 

Direct level I and indirect level II transitional systems both represent 
different forms of overdriven achievement. At level I this overdriven 
characteristic is associated with (1) orderliness and structure, (2) 
avoidance of transgressing authority and tradition, and (3) indirect 
forms of hostility 7 , partially expressed by indirectly striving to be inde- 
pendent of others. At level II overdriven achievement is associated with 
( 1 ) the need for support, ( 2 ) the avoidance of situations that would 
place the subject in an unfavorable light, and (3) assertive and com- 
petitive (as opposed to compulsive, safe, and ritualistic) achievement. 
Achievement generated by level II concepts is more often directed 
toward more lucrative fields where assertiveness is rewarded, and where 
the returns can insure the purchase of care and admiration. Level I 
achievement is less assertive, more cautious, more traditionally con- 
ventional, and more typical of the cliches relating to accountants and 
compulsive methodologists. 

It is interesting that both classes of systems have been proposed as 
establishing a psychological link in the development of peptic ulcer. 
Alexander's (1934) hypothesis rests on indirect level II transitional 
system whereas others ( Mittelman, Wolf, and Scharf, 1942; Szasz, 
Levin, Kirsner, and Palmer, 1947) stress the role of conflict involving 
hostility, resentment, and anger, which is more relevant to direct level 

I transitional systems. At the more generic level of conflict with system 

II tendencies, these two hypotheses may be almost equivalent. 

Threat within Level III 

Direct Level III Systems: Level III (E > F) Systems 

In level III transitional systems the conflict is between autonomy and 
maintaining the support and mutuality of others. Level III (E > F) 
systems are characterized by the more direct expression of the need for 
mutuality and support and the more indirect expression of autonomy. 
Any situation evaluated as increasing pressures toward autonomous 
behavior is maximally threatening ( see Table 28 ) . Such situations could 
include (1) new situations; (2) circumstances in which being auton- 
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EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 319 

(changing jobs because of a matter of principle); and (3) other situ- 
ations perceived as demanding a degree of autonomy that is beyond the 
subject's own estimation of confidence. 

Resolutions involve the avoidance of conditions that demand ex- 
cessive autonomy and overdriven, but modified, system III expressions 
such as exaggerated mutuality and self-blame. Avoidant reactions may 
include phobic-like reactions or overgeneralized fear. Overdriven tend- 
encies emanating from direct level III functioning may involve reactions 
that give the appearance of autonomy ( indirect expression of stage IV 
systems ) but are directed toward avoiding autonomy through gaining 
social approval. Examples of these resolutions might involve over- 
striving, setting fairly high goals to insure shared responsibility, and 
enlisting the support of others in reaching the goals. Within level III 
transitional systems, however, the nature of avoidant and overcom- 
pensatory reaction, even in extreme functioning, is not so defensive 
as in levels I and II extreme functioning. The modifying effects of 
increased abstractness and tolerance of threat are described below. 

Indirect Level HI Systems: Level HI (F > E) Systems 

Threat to indirect level III functioning involves any situation that 
increases pressures toward seeking support or relying upon others. 
Resolutions include ( 1 ) the avoidance of situations that do not permit 
autonomous functioning, (2) lowered goals, and (3) an autonomous 
outlook modified by the less central tendencies toward mutuality. At 
this level mutuality and autonomy are in conflict, with the autonomous 
tendencies more dominant and with mutuality and dependence on 
others avoided. Individuals at this level may choose goals that are 
achievable through independent efforts, without the help of others. 

Overall Characteristics of Extreme 
Level HI Functioning 

The most central characteristic of extreme level III functioning is 
the direct expression of anxiety. 

The more abstract the system the greater is the tolerance for threat 
so that level III transitional systems should function with considerable 
stress tolerance. Therefore, even extreme level III functioning should 
be less defensive ( less warding off of refutation ) and, under conditions 
of threat, should experience more acute anxiety. The greater the toler- 
ance for threat, the greater is the capacity to profit from the experience. 
In fact, it is just such capacity to tolerate at least some refutation that 
provides the basis for progressive development to occur. The avoidance 
of threat, although increasing closedness to conditions that lead to 



320 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

threat, is associated with some form of arrestation. Symptom-formation 
signifies increasing degrees of closedness to development. Ausubel 
(1952) makes the same point as follows: 

The ability to admit a large amount of neurotic anxiety affect to conscious- 
ness and to manage it successfully — either through intelligent resignation 
(learning to live with it), creating a propitious environment, or construc- 
tively lowering ego aspiration level and increasing intrinsic self-esteem — is 
very important in avoiding disabling psychological or psychosomatic defenses 
against anxiety. It is a well established clinical fact that the greater an 
individual's tolerance for conscious anxiety, the less likely he is to fall prey 
to compulsions, obsessions, phobias, hysteria, hypochondriasis or psychoso- 
matic syndromes such as neurocirculatory asthenia or peptic ulcer. All of 
these latter methods of anxiety-reduction are indicative of low tolerance for 
anxiety and of failure in controlling it through more constructive methods 
(Ausubel, 1952, p. 313). 

Consequently, we would associate the effects of threat within level 
III transitional systems with the traditional description of anxiety 
states. Further, we expect a higher prevalence and more severe states 
of anxiety to occur within the more direct level III transitional systems. 
The nature of anxiety at this level of functioning is illustrated by White 
(1956) as follows: 

Anxiety attacks can be considered to represent a partial failure of adequate 
defenses. Even in the face of highly disquieting fear, the patient does not 
produce defenses sufficient to bind and suppress his fear. . . . These take 
a less sweeping form: the patient is panic-stricken but not disintegrated; 
from time to time he is flooded by terror, but he struggles with it, brings it 
somehow under his control, resumes his dailv life until another attack breaks 
through . . . (White, 1956, pp. 271-272) .' 

When compartmentalization in this system occurs, the conflicting 
poles of autonomy and mutuality become more independent and alter- 
nate as a function of situational change. However, the compartmental- 
ized structures in level III functioning are much less categorical or 
absolute than the massive categorization that occurs in the more concrete 
systems such as the obsessive-compulsive neuroses. 



General Considerations 

Adaptive Functions of Anxiety and Defense 

Conflict resolutions are of two general types, each of which is "adap- 
tive." A resolution that produces greater closedness is adaptive within 
the range of a particular system (system-specific functioning) but is 
maladaptive from the broader viewpoint of progressive development. 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOCY 321 

Put another way, "successful" warding off potential refutation may de- 
crease the likelihood of progression. As we have just noted in the pre- 
vious section, resolutions at more abstract levels are less likely to be 
defensive. At these levels, the resolutions are less likely to involve an 
immediate "warding off" since the tolerance for threat is greater. Threat 
and its associated conflicts are resolved by progressively more abstract 
integrations, and these resolutions are likely to be adaptive in a system- 
specific sense as well as in terms of potential for progression. 

Following Freud, many authors have stressed the importance of 
distinguishing between the primary and secondary gain derived by a 
particular symptom. Primary gain generally refers to the degree of 
anxiety reduction provided by the symptom, whereas secondary gain 
refers to the environmental effect or "social gain" accruing from the 
symptom. We would consider primary gain as similar to functional 
adequacy of a resolution within the framework of whatever conceptual 
system is operating, or in terms of what we described as "successful" 
or "adaptive." Thus in order to estimate the degree of primary gain we 
would need to know the nature of the conceptual system underlying the 
symptom. 

Since secondary gain involves social effects, we would expect symp- 
toms related to stage III functioning (including level II transition) 
to be highest in secondary gain. In system III the system-specific aim 
is to maintain favorable interpersonal relations so that reactions such 
as depression, hysteria, and hypochondriasis quite obviously "pull" 
considerable secondary gain. In systems other than system III, par- 
ticularly in system II, a resolution may accrue primary gain but no 
secondary gain; in system III, secondary and primary gain are more 
synonomous. 

Relationship between Various 
Forms of Pathology 

Which pathologies are similar? Is it possible for one form of pathology 
to develop into some other form of pathology? If so, what direction will 
the change take? In terms of our analysis, the most generic criterion for 
determining similarity in personality organization or pathology is the 
abstract-concrete dimension. For example, obsessive-compulsive neu- 
rosis would be considered more similar to schizophrenia than would 
negativism. Table 24 indicates the relationship of various forms of 
pathology to the concrete-abstract dimension, and therefore indicates 
those forms which would be most similar. On the basis of the order in 
Table 24 we would expect the following : 

1. That borderline cases should occur more frequently between ad- 



322 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

jacent forms of pathology, for example, a greater prevalence of border- 
line cases between anti-social syndromes and hysteria than between 
schizophrenia and hysteria. 

2. That when one pathology changes to a different form, the second 
form will be one that is immediately adjacent on the concrete-abstract 
dimension. Stated generally, "syndrome choice," including a second or 
third "choice," is determined in part by the position of syndromes on 
the concrete-abstract dimension. 

3. An alternate and equally testable hypothesis is that increases in 
pathology will be toward the more extreme resolutions associated with 
threat to a more concrete version of the same orientation, such as de- 
pendency. For example, if the avoidant and overcompensative reso- 
lutions at level III (F > E) prove inadequate, perhaps the shift in 
pathology may be first to level II (C > D) and if that doesn't work 
to level I (B > A). 

4. That similarity based on symptoms or behavior may be misleading. 
For example, diagnosis based only on overt behavior may not distinguish 
between the nature of dependency strivings within system I and system 
III although drawing a sharp distinction between obsessive-compulsive 
symptoms and negativistic reactions, which, according to the present 
view, are quite similar. 

Psychosis, Neurosis, and Normality 

In the present view, psychosis is defined as an extremely closed form 
of system functioning that may occur at any one of the three nodal 
stages. Thus, schizophrenic reactions, psychopathic reactions, and de- 
pressive reactions are similar in at least one respect: all show inflexible 
overgeneralized interpretation or use of a single interpretative orien- 
tation. Although the content of interpretation varies between the three 
forms of psychosis, the inflexibility of structure is similar. We realize 
that to classify psychopathic reactions as psychotic is somewhat unusual 
although some investigators have noted the similarity (Henderson, 
1939; Cleckley, 1950 ) . The three forms of psychotic reaction do differ 
not only in the content of interpretation but also in the degree of closed- 
ness (or inflexibility) of the system. On the basis of the concrete- 
abstract hierarchy we view depressive reactions as less inflexible and 
less overgeneralized (that is, less loss of reality contact) than schizo- 
phrenic reactions. 

In the present view, neurosis is defined as an extremely conflicting 
form of system functioning that may occur at any one of the three 
transitional levels. Obsessive-compulsive reactions, hysterical reactions, 
and anxiety reactions are similar in at least two respects: presence of 
conflicting tendencies and some degree of compartmentalization. Also, 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 323 

these three neurotic reactions are likely to involve much vacillation 
(especially when the conflicting tendencies are about equally central). 
They differ, however, in the degree of avoidant and/or overcompensa- 
tory maneuvers. Since the incidence of avoidance is inversely related to 
abstractness, anxiety reactions show less avoidance than obsessive- 
compulsive reactions. The more intense the transitional conflict at 
any level, the less likely that threat will result in extreme closedness 
(psychosis) because of the counterbalancing effects of the two semi- 
compartmentalized and conflicting system of concepts. 

"Normality" may be viewed either normatively or qualitatively. The 
normative definition involves the establishment of arbitrary standards 
or rating scales in order to estimate the degree to which an individual's 
behavior falls within (normal) or without (neurotic or psychotic) 
these limits. According to this normative definition, individuals arrested 
at any point in development (for example, stage I, level I) may be 
viewed as "normal." However, if the system becomes increasingly closed 
or conflicting, the individual's behavior would be described as more 
abnormal (from the normative view). Although closedness of the 
more concrete systems would generally be rated more abnormal in 
our culture, in some of the more primitive cultures this may not always 
be true. 

The qualitative definition of normality is based on the level of ab- 
stractness of functioning and in this sense the degree of normality is 
equivalent to what we would call the level of adjustment, stress toler- 
ance, or the abstractness of the conceptual system. "Normality," defined 
qualitatively, characterizes what we would strive to produce in educa- 
tion and development, although it is by no means the goal of many 
training practices in current institutions or societies. 

Normality is a relative matter by this definition, too, with ultimate or 
ideal normality represented by system IV functioning. But in the course 
of child development, for example, less abstract systems may constitute 
optimal or maximal functioning. System IV (ultimate normality) is an 
achievement that rests on the successful integration of societal pres- 
sures (which may themselves be conflicting) and the expression of 
individual autonomy. At this ideal stage the individual functions as a 
creative, contributing member of society-at-large, being neither bound 
by nor in conflict with the major pressures we have been discussing in 
this chapter. 

Personality Organization and Neurotic Reactions 

Neurotic reactions are presently viewed in terms of three complex 
dimensions, each leading to the evolvement of different forms of neu- 
rosis under different training conditions. Some approaches to the de- 



324 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

velopment of neurosis suggest a single set of antecedent conditions. For 
example, Dollard and Miller ( 1950 ) stress the importance of parental 
and environmental pressure or control in producing an excessively strong 
conscience, whereas Mowrer (1950) stresses a set of conditions that are 
almost opposite to those proposed by Dollard and Miller as underlying 
the development of neurosis. For Mowrer, neurosis is seen as developing 
from a lack of learning or control (as opposed to an excess), resulting 
in a weak conscience. Eysenck (1955) views these positions in over- 
simplified Freudian terms as follows: Dollard and Miller are said to 
maintain that superego plus ego is greater than id in neurosis, whereas 
Mowrer is said to view neurosis in terms of id plus ego being greater 
than superego. In our terms, Dollard and Miller have emphasized the 
development of system I tendencies and level I transitional neurosis 
whereas Mowrer has placed emphasis upon the conditions underlying 
arrestation at stage II and level II transitional neurosis. Viewed in this 
fashion, the apparent contradiction disappears. 

In Eysenck's (1955) excellent analysis of this problem, he identifies 
Mowrer's position with the "hysteria" pole of Eysenck's extraversion- 
introversion dimension of personality and Miller and Dollard's analysis 
with the "disthymic" pole. The "hysteria" pole, exemplified by extra- 
version, degraded work history, and sex anomalies, is characteristic of 
active system II functioning, but the "disthymic" pole includes anxiety, 
depression, and obsessional characteristics. The present dimensional 
structure and its method of derivation are quite different from Eysenck's, 
which was developed by factor analysis of psychiatric ratings and other 
standard measures. We have proceeded on the basis of theory, obser- 
vation, and experimentation, viewing factorial and other statistical ap- 
proaches as means for testing the derived hypotheses. 

"Normality" and Mental Health 

As a final point, we would emphasize one of the direct implications 
of this chapter: the importance and method of utilizing "normal" func- 
tioning in order to arrive at a better understanding of malfunctioning. 
When defined from a normative point of view, we would expect little 
difference, for example, between the case histories of "normal" sys- 
tem I individuals and abnormal system I individuals (schizoid, with- 
drawn persons). 

The difference between "normal" and "abnormal" functioning at 
any particular stage or level rests upon factors that produce what are 
initially relatively small increases in closedness or conflict but which 
later may produce a "snowball effect." A recent study by Schofield and 
Balian ( 1959 ) attests to the general similarity in case history records of 



EXTREME FORMS OF CONCEPTUAL FUNCTIONING: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 325 

schizophrenic and normal individuals drawn from populations similar 
in that both were referred to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment 
and were matched on age, sex, and marital status. We would assume 
even greater similarity if both groups had been functioning within the 
conceptual limits of system I. 

Since pathological reactions are viewed in terms of overgeneralized 
inflexibility, the capacity for flexible adaptation is the crucial factor 
for distinguishing normal from pathological functioning within any 
arrested stage or level. The distinction is, of course, a matter of degree. 
To study the more "normal" individuals in each system in order to 
determine why the system does not become increasingly closed or 
conflicted is as important as studying the more closed forms of function- 
ing, since the former provides the possibility of learning about the 
manner in which some individuals become "immunized" against in- 
creasing closedness. To conduct such investigations would require the 
selection of individuals on the basis of differences in degrees of closed- 
ness of the same system. Having selected subjects in this way, it should 
be possible to investigate the circumstances underlying the increased 
sensitivity and closedness of certain individuals compared to others 
whose functioning did not become more inflexible. 

An alternative plan would be to select individuals functioning within 
the same system and at the same degree of closedness, subjecting them 
to different experimental conditions aimed at investigating how indi- 
viduals with similar conceptual structures differ in terms of coping with 
potential refutation. Perhaps the most important methodological im- 
plication of these suggestions is to emphasize the importance of select- 
ing a control group that is equivalent to the experimental group on 
the basis of conceptual structure. As we implied earlier, if the control 
population is selected on the basis of arbitrary matching, demographic 
variables, or on a "random" basis little useful information regarding 
adaptive and maladaptive functioning will be obtained. 

The implications of the present viewpoint for mental health as well 
as for modification procedures involved in education, psychological 
therapy, and development are now considered in Chapter 10. 



10 Modification of 

Conceptual Systems: 

Education and 

Psychological Therapy 



The purpose of this final chapter is to describe the implications of 
our viewpoint for conceptual modification. We have described earlier in 
a context of "natural" change the conditions necessary for change or 
progression to occur : ( 1 ) the conceptual structure must be open to pro- 
gression and (2) the training condition being experienced must pro- 
vide the opportunity for differentiation and integration of new dimen- 
sions. Such knowledge of how structural development occurs should 
serve as the basis for how structural change can be accomplished. 
Therefore, we shall use the knowledge about natural change (progres- 
sive development and arrestation ) to determine procedures for induced 
change (education, psychological therapy, environmental program- 
ming). 

Our present purpose is to state several implications of our viewpoint 
for modification at a general level and to illustrate these implications by 
a few specific educational and therapeutic procedures currently in use. 
One of the most critical ultimate criteria by which a psychological 
theory is evaluated is its potential for producing change. The following 
statements represent our proposals in this direction. We feel that one 
of the best indications of the value of the present viewpoint will be 
the degree to which these proposals generate investigations and pro- 
grams that will lead to a better understanding of the process of and 
procedures for producing change. 

The General Aim of Modification Is to Produce 
More Abstract Conceptual Structure 

As we have stated repeatedly, in earlier chapters, we believe that 
abstract conceptual structure and its associated creativity, stress toler- 

326 



MODIFICATION" OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 327 

ance, and flexibility is a desirable, adaptive, valuable state. The value of 
abstract structure is of course relative to the goals of creativity, stress 
tolerance, and other activities associated with system IV structure. We 
reaffirm this value judgment by stating that the long-term aim of every 
modification procedure, whether it is psvchotherapv, education, milieu 
therapy, or whatever, should be to produce structural change toward 
more abstract conceptual structure. 

Progression to a more abstract conceptual structure occurs through 
the processes of differentiation and integration. At any level of abstract- 
ness, therefore, the potential for progression is determined largely by 
the person's capacity for making new differentiations required for 
progression and his capacity for integrating these differentiated parts. 
We have used the term, openness to progression, 1 to describe the com- 
plex structural organization required in order for the saccadic leaps 
of progressive development to occur. Throughout this chapter we con- 
tinue to use degree of openness to progression, along with degree of 
abstractness, as the two major structural properties to be considered in 
modification. 

However, as we have noted earlier, openness to progression is a 
very general characteristic, which may be viewed as a composite of 
several interrelated structural properties. 2 We briefly recapitulate these 
properties in relation to their role in progression; in order for progression 
to occur, these three structural requirements must be met. 

1. Potential to Articulate New Differentiations 

The degree of articulation of a concept may be described by two 
closely similar properties, clarity-ambiguity or directness-indirectness 
of expression. Thus, a well-articulated concept is high in clarity and 
direct expression. Structural organization that is poorly articulated 
(ambiguous or indirect) may result from many quite differing circum- 
stances : lack of experience, "ignorance," or extreme threat. As we shall 
discuss later, these differences must be considered in planning modi- 
fication procedures. For now we may simply note that the poles of the 
more concrete stage must be articulated and differentiated before pro- 

1 Openness may also describe among other things a temporary state of receptiv- 
ity toward a particular object; however, we are here concerned with relatively 
pervasive openness of structure toward poles at current stage of abstractness and 
next higher stage of abstractness. 

2 Openness, as employed here, refers to an intra-stage condition. One could 
speak as well of the overall openness of the total self-system, in which case the 
criteria for openness and abstractness would be the same. In the present case, 
however, variation in openness-closedness is meant to refer to a state widiin a 
given range or stage of concreteness-abstractness. 



328 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

gression can occur. Conceptual clarity and direct expression are thus 
prerequisites for progression. 

2. Potential to Synthesize Parts 

The potential for integrating differentiated parts is indicated by the 
variation in compartmentalization-interrelatedness. Thus, a system of 
concepts that is either already integrated or that may be synthesized into 
more abstract structure is considered interrelated. Conversely, the 
greater the compartmentalization, the less is the likelihood of progres- 
sion. Once the poles have been articulated and differentiated, these are 
synthesized and related to new, more abstract structures. Thus, a 
second prerequisite for progression is conceptual interrelatedness. 

3. Potential for Occurrence of Centrality 
with Minimum of Closedness 

Centrality-peripherality describes the intensity of affect associated 
with changing a particular structure. Resistance to change is very slight 
or non-existent in the most peripheral structure, whereas resistance is 
very great in the most central structure. Stated in terms of progression 
potential, the extremely peripheral structure is unlikely to facilitate 
progression because of apathy, whereas the extremely central structure 
is likely to prohibit progression because of resistance to change. Thus, 
we regard an optimal level of centrality to be the third prerequisite for 
progression. 

We conclude this recapitulation by observing that the structural 
state, openness to progression, may be described more specifically as 
( 1 ) high in clarity and ( 2 ) interrelatedness with ( 3 ) an optimal level 
of centrality; all three requirements must be met in order for progres- 
sion to occur. Thus, to maintain openness to progression, the person 
should be permitted to explore, without the consequences of his ex- 
plorations being unduly serious, and permitted to learn new ways of 
manipulating his environment. Put in terms of child development, the 
environment should be such that it is not too costly for the child to 
develop. Although some form of informational interdependent training, 
which permits maximum exploration with a minimum penalty, is 
generally conducive to progression, the specific short-term goals and 
procedures for accomplishing them must be planned in relation to the 
existing conceptual structure of the person, as we describe in the next 
section. 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 329 

Current Conceptual Structure Determines 
Initial Modification Goals 

The general aim of inducing more abstract structure may be stated 
more specifically as follows, "How can we organize the environment in 
such a way to permit the maximum development for this person at this 
time?" Given the aim of inducing more abstract structure, we must 
therefore know the existing conceptual structure of the person before 
setting initial goals because persons varying in conceptual structure will 
react very differently to the same environmental conditions. Those 
conditions that produce progression for persons at one level may pro- 
duce quite a different effect for persons at another level. For example, 
protective interdependent training leads to progression for persons 
at stage II ( if structure is open ) , but to arrestation for persons at stage 
III. The differential effects of the same environmental condition upon 
persons differing in degree of abstractness is illustrated by the following 
table taken from Maxwell Jones' ( 1953 ) description of the effectiveness 
of the "Therapeutic Community" program. The milieu therapy provided 
may be considered a form of protective interdependent training. The 
diagnostic groups have been ordered in increasing degree of abstract- 
ness. With the exception of the obsessional group ( which contained only 
two persons) the mean adjustment scores increase as the groups ap- 
proach stage III structure (depressive group), thus illustrating the 
differential consequence of the same environment at different levels of 
abstractness. 1 

TABLE 29 

Mean Adjustment Scores of Various Diagnostic Groups after 
Therapeutic Community Program 

Diagnostic group N Mean adjustment score 

Schizoid character-schizophrenia 
Obsessional features predominant 
Inadequate psychopath 
Aggressive psychopath 
Hysterical features predominant 
Predominantly depressive state 
Anxiety features predominant 

(From Jones, 1953, p. 136) 

1 One could argue that the results in Table 29 indicate simply that the more 



11 


5.5 


2 


9.5 


23 


6.8 


5 


7.6 


21 


9.2 


9 


11.0 


21 


9.8 



330 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Progression occurs through stages in a given order, and the person 
cannot leap immediately from the concrete structure of system I to the 
abstract structure of system IV without making the intervening dif- 
ferentiations and integrations that occur at the second and third stages. 
Therefore, in planning any modification program it is essential to know 
the degree of abstractness of the person. 

Two persons may be similar in abstractness of structure, but they 
react to the same environmental condition quite differently because 
of differences in openness. For example, let us suppose that a person 
whose system III structure is closed to progression and a person whose 
system III structure is open to progression are both exposed to infor- 
mational interdependent training. This condition will have diametrically 
opposite effects in that it represents intense threat for the person with 
closed structure whereas it will be likely to induce progression for the 
person with open structure. As we noted in the last section, progression 
can never occur unless the structure is sufficiently open to progression. 
Therefore, in planning anv modification program we must also know the 
degree of openness to progression and how to increase it when necessary. 

Before proceeding, one implication of these notions is in order. In the 
present view, the potential effectiveness or utility of a modification 
procedure can be evaluated only in relation to a person with specified 
conceptual structure. The "issues" of "which is better — Directive or 
non-directive therapy? Group or individual therapy? Foster home place- 
ment or institutionalization? Permissive versus structured educational 
practices?" — all disregard the structure of the person toward whom the 
modification is directed. The issue is not one of absolute superiority, 
but rather of the appropriateness of the modification effort for permit- 
ting maximum development of the particular person at a particular time. 
In order to choose what modification is appropriate, the conceptual 
structure must be simultaneously placed on the two dimensions into 
one of the categories in Table 30. 

Table 30 summarizes the system of diagnosis or assessment that we 
propose as maximally relevant for modification. Although for certain 
purposes, it may be necessary to make finer distinctions such as those 
suggested in Chapter 6 (for example, level I [A > B], direct expression 
in stage II), these distinctions are simply refinements of the two dimen- 
sions in Table 30. We now consider briefly some illustrative procedures 
for assessing degree of abstractness and degree of closedness. 

abstract the structure the better is the prognosis, regardless of the training condition. 
More carefully specified investigation in which persons varying in degree of ab- 
stractness are placed in a "therapeutic environment" of a reliable unilateral nature 
is required before these two possibilities can be distinguished. 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 



331 



Assessment of Degree of Abstractness 

Variations on the concrete-abstract dimension may be viewed in 
terms of both cognitive, structural features and in terms of dynamic, 
functional features. As we have stated repeatedly, the present notion 
of a conceptual system encompasses both structural attributes, such as 
degree of differentiation and integration and motivational attributes, 
such as mode of handling dependency relationships. Since the assess- 
ment of degree of abstractness is theoretically identical to the assess- 
ment of dispositional determinants, the procedures and examples 
described in Chapter 8 (pp. 257-259) provide the basis for assessing 
variation on this dimension. The investigator may tap structural char- 
acteristics by noting the capacity to make differentiations, flexibility in 
use of new interpretations of the same stimuli, and the number of dimen- 
sions that the person can employ. Abstract structure is characterized by 
greater differentiation, greater flexibility of interpretation, and a greater 
number of conceptual dimensions. Or the investigator may proceed by 
tapping more dynamic characteristics. Abstract functioning is presum- 
ably characterized by greater stress tolerance, greater creativity, more 
internal conception of causality, less absolutistic handling of external 



TABLE 30 

Patterns of Conceptual Structure Relevant for Modification 







Open to progression 


Closed to progression 


Concrete 


Stage I 








Level I 








Stage II 








Level II 








Stage III 








Level III 






Abstract 


Stage IV 







332 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

control, and a more interdependent handling of dependency problems 
than, is concrete functioning. 

Ideally, the assessment of degree of abstractness occurs through a 
convergence of structural and dynamic referents. Thus, a particular 
individual might manifest difficulty both in making new differentiations 
and in interpreting new stimuli from a structural standpoint, and might 
manifest an external approach to causality, an oppositional mode of 
handling dependency, and a rather low level of stress tolerance. Through 
such a multimeasure approach, the investigator might infer from this 
convergence of referents that the person's conceptual structure could 
be placed at system II in terms of Table 30. 

The recent work of Pinard (1959) in devising objective measures for 
some of the stages suggested by Piaget is presently relevant as the 
following quotation indicates : 

. . . The search for stages requires a meticulous evaluation of all test 
protocoles, and a classification of the various types of possible responses. 
This scoring implies a global assessment of the protocoles. Contrarily to 
what happens in most usual tests, every response, whether right or wrong, 
is studied and interpreted. As a matter of fact, the wrong responses are the 
most significant and throw more light on the real level of the child's ex- 
planations (Pinard, 1959, pp. 6-7). 

In present terms the "wrong responses" may also provide indicators 
of the degree of abstractness. In practice the assessment of degree of 
abstractness will frequently proceed simultaneously with the assessment 
of degree of openness. However, it is helpful to consider them separately 
in terms of the rationale underlying each dimension. 

Assessment of Openness to Progression 

The more closed the structure, the more threatening will be those 
conditions to be synthesized at the next level of abstractness, and the 
more the person will rely on single interpretations emanating from the 
presently closed system. Thus, we must always consider openness- 
closedness in relation to a point on the abstractness dimension. We must 
specify openness to what. If we know that a person is at stage II on the 
abstract dimension then we need to know the degree of openness to 
mutuality and support since these are the relevant areas at stage III. 
The assessment task is to test the limits of threat, so to speak, in order 
to estimate how difficult it will be to induce progression. 

One general procedure for assessing openness is to attempt to induce 
progression "in miniature." Hypnotic procedures or role-playing tech- 
niques may be employed to determine whether the person can take on 
provisionally the dimensions required for progression. Presumably if 
the person is unable to deal with progression-relevant stimuli under 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 333 

hypnosis or during role-playing, it would be reasonable to infer closed 
structure. 

Although we have indicated only two points on the open-closed di- 
mension in Table 30, it should be made clear that there is considerable 
variation in the degree of closedness to progression, ranging from the 
case of the child who is closed while he is articulating the more concrete 
system to the case of the psychotic person who is so excessively closed 
that he inflexibly interprets all events in exaggerated system-specific 
terms. For some purposes, it may be quite important to make finer dis- 
tinctions in degree of closedness, but for present purposes we will con- 
sider broad characteristics of closedness since the general procedures 
for inducing openness are similar. The characteristic of inflexibility of 
interpretation may be used to infer excessive closedness by means of a 
technique such as asking the person to interpret controlled, system- 
specific stimuli in several ways; inability to produce alternative inter- 
pretations indicates inflexibility, hence closedness. 

Another avenue of approach in assessing degree of openness is 
through the history of the person. We have described in detail ( espe- 
cially in Chapters 5 and 9) those conditions producing closedness at 
various levels of abstractness. The occurrence of family conditions 
thought to be associated with system-specific closedness may provide 
an indicator of closed structure (however, it should also be supported 
by contemporaneous indicators ) . 

One component of openness is directness of expression, which is 
indicated by one or more of the following characteristics: (1) less 
expression in fantasy and less displacement, (2) more exploration, (3) 
less dependency upon environment, and (4) more capacity to delay 
reward. One technique for assessment of expressive directness (and 
hence, openness to progression) is to compare responses to so-called 
direct and indirect personality measures. A direct approach is to ask 
the subject, "How do you interpret this (real or hypothetical) situation?" 
A more indirect approach is to ask S how someone else would interpret 
the situation; or one can specifically request fantasy responses (in- 
direct) as in the Thematic Apperception Test. An example of this 
direct-indirect comparative approach is the work of Leary ( 1957 ) which 
employed both direct and fantasy measures of dominance and submis- 
sion (that is, openness within system I in our terms). 

Having considered the basis for placing the conceptual structure of 
a person into one of the categories in Table 30 let us now consider 
how such placement determines the next step. Specifically, how does 
the current structure determine the short-term goals of modification? 
Two general principles govern this determination. 

1. If structure is closed, the initial goal is to induce openness. 



334 



CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 



This first principle is simply the corollary of the by-now-familiar 
principle that progression cannot occur unless the system is open. 

2. If structure is open, the goal is to induce progression to next ab- 
stract stage. 

These two principles are represented diagrammatically in Table 31 
so that the interrelationship between assessment of structure and initial 
goal is made explicit. The arrows indicate the initial goal. 

Note that in using Table 31 it is always necessary to know both de- 
gree of abstractness and degree of openness. One needs to know the 
degree of abstractness even if the system is closed because the pro- 
cedures for inducing openness vary at differing levels of abstractness. 
Put another way, as we describe in the next section, procedures for 
inducing openness are system-specific. 

In the present section we are considering initial, short-term goals. 
Thus, Table 31 indicates that, if the structure is closed at system III, 
the initial goal is to induce openness. Once this has been accomplished, 
the next goal of inducing progression to stage IV may be undertaken. 
Table 31 provides a specific basis for setting intermediate goals relevant 
to the person's conceptual structure, which will serve the general aim 
of inducing more abstract structure. 



TABLE 31 
Relation of Conceptual Structure to Initial Modification Goals 







Open to 
Progression 


Closed to 
Progression 


Concrete 


Stage I 


$ 


i 


^ 


3 




Level I 




r°> < fA 




ixm I vy 




Stage II 




a .""" 


o 




< ^y 

[ 




Level II 




1 




vy * 






Stage III 


K 


r 4 


o 




v. 


9 I yy 

l 




Level III 




r°^ t f^ 




W K I yy 


Abstract 


Stage IV 


« i y 





MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 335 

Structural Change Is Difficult to Produce 
in Extremely Closed Systems 

The more closed the system at any level of abstractness, the more in- 
flexible and overgeneralized is the system-specific interpretation; there- 
fore, the more difficult is the induction of structural change. In cases of 
extreme closedness this overgeneralized single interpretation may virtu- 
ally prevent structural change of any kind. 

Closedness to progression is a matter of degree, and a mild degree of 
closedness is not only "normal" but necessary in the course of develop- 
ment. The child must be closed to some degree during the time he is 
articulating and clarifying one stage of abstractness before he can pro- 
gress to the next stage. A moderate degree of closedness is illustrated 
by the conceptual structures described in Chapter 6. which were char- 
acterized as arrested, but "normal." The relatively stable personality 
organization of the adult represents such a moderate degree of closed- 
ness. Extreme or excessive closedness is represented, of course, by the 
extreme psvchopathological forms described in Chapter 9. Increasing 
the openness of such extremelv closed structures in psychotic patients 
is likelv to be verv difficult. The degree of extreme closedness, therefore, 
is inversely related to prognosis. 

Procedures to Reduce Extreme Closedness 

Procedures aimed to decrease closedness or to reduce compartmental- 
ization are more likelv to be regarded as psvehotherapeutic, whereas 
procedures aimed to induce progression are more likely to be regarded 
as educational. Although this distinction holds generally, some forms 
of educational procedure require the reduction of closedness, for ex- 
ample, remedial work in reading for a child who has become excessively 
closed toward those dimensions such as autonomy, which are associated 
with more favorable attitudes to reading. 

In this section we consider briefly the general basis underlying pro- 
cedures aimed to reduce closedness and indicate a few examples of 
specific procedures, which mav be effective for reducing closedness at 
particular stages of abstractness. Two general principles apply. First. 
the procedure cannot deviate too far from the conceptual baseline of 
the structure of the person. Second, the determinants of the current 
structure provide the logical basis for selecting appropriate procedures. 
One must know how the structure developed in order to know how to 
change it. 

Excessive closedness is produced by extreme pressure toward the 



336 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

next higher stage of abstractness; in excessively closed systems, such 
pressure is experienced as threat. Therefore, the general procedure in 
decreasing closedness is to reduce threat; since what is threatening 
varies between the systems, the specific procedure will consist of re- 
ducing system-specific threat. At stage I, for example, threat is epito- 
mized by pressure toward opposition to absolute standards or ambiguity, 
and procedures will therefore consist of reduction of environmental 
ambiguity and reduction of pressure toward opposition. 

Work with psychotic patients furnishes the best source of example 
for procedures that attempt to decrease excessive closedness. Psycho- 
logical therapy or environmental programming attempt to remove those 
situational stimuli to which the extreme sensitization has occurred. One 
major difficulty in accomplishing such desensitization is that the patient 
may be totally unreceptive to almost all stimuli and therefore not be 
aware of the change. Threatening elements in the environment may be 
reduced markedly, but the patient may not be aware of such reduction 
precisely because of the operation of excessive closedness, which the 
reduction in threat is aimed to decrease. Therefore, the intervention 
procedures must include in addition to appropriate "environmental 
programming," a means for encouraging the patient to "test out" the 
environment so that he can experience this change. 

One procedure aimed to decrease excessive system I closedness is 
to create a simpler, less ambiguous environment, and of course this 
is what occurs in the hospitalization of schizophrenic patients. The aim 
is to decrease the patient's necessity for feeling externally controlled. It 
is particularly apparent in dealing with excessive system I closedness 
that the reduction in environmental threat must be accompanied by 
some technique aimed to induce "reality testing" so that the patient 
can discover that the threatening pressure is no longer present. Inter- 
pretations by the therapist of the patient's fears of control or his in- 
hibited aggressive wishes to control or destroy those who control him 
may help to make these thoughts more acceptable, less threatening, 
and hence more available for modification. Differences between the 
fantasied harshness of control and the current reality situation must be 
pointed out and interpreted repeatedly. But a long period of consistent 
acceptance is necessary as a background before interpretations may be 
"heard" by the patient, a point acknowledged in psychoanalytic therapy 
by the necessity for encouraging dependence and providing structure 
in the early stages of therapy. The psychotic patient is so threatened 
and so closed to perceptions that challenge the psychotic defense that 
very minor incidents or cues are interpreted in the exaggerated, dis- 
torted manner consistent with his closed system. 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 337 

As the structure becomes less closed and the patient begins to "come 
out of his shell," he may behave in ways that place him in even more 
threatening circumstances. Therefore the controlled environment 
should be closely attuned and adjusted to changes in the structure of the 
patient (a procedure which is one of the operations for informational 
interdependent training). For example, when a patient's fear of ex- 
pressing his intense hostility is reduced, there is some danger that the 
hostility will be expressed in all its available intensity. Attention must 
be paid to providing the patient with milder, relatively safe ways of 
expressing anger or opposition; at times it may be necessary to permit 
intense affective expression in a controlled situation so that the feeling 
can be accepted while the destructive behavior is controlled. 

In excessive system II closedness, threat is represented by imposed 
control or pressures toward dependency. Because of the extreme sensi- 
tization to source imposition, the role of the training agent, or therapist, 
is extremely difficult at this stage. One means of reducing such pressure 
is to minimize adult control by giving responsibility to the peer group 
as is done in the junior republic treatment centers for delinquents. How- 
ever, in extreme system II closedness, these self-governing techniques 
may be inappropriate since they do not reduce pressure toward de- 
pendence. For these cases what is needed is something like Bettelheim's 
(1951) approach in dealing with severely disturbed hyperaggressive 
children, which may be described as a "casual but consistent friend- 
liness" on the part of the adult. The problem of encouraging the child 
to "test out" the environment is not so prominent here as in system I 
since system II closedness is associated with oppositional "testing out." 
Here, then, the training agent should permit the child to approach him, 
as Bettelheim suggests, and then provide a consistent form of accept- 
ance. What is required is a friendliness that is not primarily based on the 
adult's own needs; this condition makes it more difficult for the child 
to maintain the view that he is merely a pawn of the (imposing) adult. 

Another example of appropriate procedure for modifying excessive 
system II closedness is provided by the work of Goodrich and Boomer 
( 1958 ) . These authors list a number of procedures aimed at "support- 
ing existing ego controls" in dealing with hyperaggressive children, 
as follows: 

Preventive: (avoid threatening existing ego controls) 

1. Therapist recognizes that he is not obligated to interpret or limit 

symptomatic behavior that is not disruptive or currently operating 
as resistance. 

2. Therapist deliberately avoids mobilizing currently uncontrollable core 

conflict. 



338 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

3. Therapist refrains from confronting child with his psychopathology 
when the intervention seems likely to generate a disruptive degree 
of anxiety. 
Supportive: (help child maintain ego controls under special stress) 

1. Therapist is alert to situations that are likely to overload children's ego 

controls and he provides clear supportive structuring. 

2. Therapist helps child to maintain his ego control in a variety of sit- 

uations by constantly evaluating the child's current frustration tol- 
erance. 

3. Therapist helps child to maintain or regain control by deliberate ex- 

pression of positive interest. 

4. Therapist firmly and clearly limits socially intolerable behavior. 
Restitutive: (help child regain control after temporary failure) 

1. Therapist, when setting limits to disapproved behavior, relates the 

intervention to an established policy. 

2. In dealing with a child who is temporarily flooded by anxiety, therapist 

promotes recovery by: 

a. Permitting the child to regain control in his own way. 

b. Giving the child the undivided attention of a trusted adult. 

c. Permitting the child as much interpersonal distance as he needs. 

(Goodrich and Boomer, 1958, p. 286) 

These procedures, especially 2a and 2b, and the casual friendliness 
suggested earlier are all considered as similar to informational inter- 
dependent training. 

System III closedness is more abstract than closedness at systems I 
and II; one consequence is that verbal methods are more effective in 
encouraging the testing of changes in the environment. Thus, in addi- 
tion to reducing pressure toward autonomy, which represents maximal 
threat to closed structures at this stage, the training agent may interpret 
this change to the patient. Depressive patients (excessive system III 
closedness) are more amenable to such verbal techniques, and also 
generally have a better prognosis than persons excessively closed at 
less abstract stages. 

We have cited examples of methods for decreasing closedness at 
stages I, II, and III. Procedures for reducing extreme compartmental- 
ization in transitional levels follow the same general principle of re- 
ducing system-specific threat. In reducing closedness at transitional 
levels, the procedure will usually consist of reducing the threat of the 
more negative, concrete pole to which the structure is compartmental- 
ized so that the person may articulate this stage and use it as a base for 
later progression. As was true for procedures for decreasing closedness 
in stages, procedures for decreasing transitional compartmentalization 
vary at different levels of transitional conflict. 

In line with the principle that modification techniques must suit the 
existing personality structure, it is expected that the effectiveness of a 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 339 

particular type of psychotherapy will be determined by its svstem- 
relevance. For example, client-centered therapv may be especially 
suitable for increasing openness in cases of moderate system III closed- 
ness. The warm, receptive mutuality provided by the client-centered 
counselor should prove effective in encouraging the articulation and 
clarification of system III structure. However, client-centered proce- 
dures are poorly suited to system II problems, as Rogers ( 1957 ) ob- 
serves: "The client who externalizes his problem feeling little self- 
responsibility is much more likely to be a failure" ( Rogers, 1957, p. 101 ) . 
Freud also observed that traditional psychoanalvsis was not particularly 
effective upon what we term system II problems. Investigations are 
needed that focus on determining the most appropriate forms of inter- 
vention (psychotherapeutic or otherwise) for inducing openness at 
various stages, and the present theoretical viewpoint provides a basis 
for formulating such studies. 

While considering psychotherapeutic procedures we would like to 
re-emphasize a point made in Chapter 4. Many individual and group 
therapists have observed that the person(s) undergoing psychotherapy 
evolves through stages very similar to those that we have proposed as 
occurring in conceptual development. Certainlv the best known is 
Freud's observation that after the initial phase of structured depend- 
ency (first stage dependence) patients pass through a phase of neg- 
ative transference ( second stage opposition ) and positive transference 
(third stage mutuality) before reaching what he considered a "suc- 
cessful analysis." Rotter (1954) and Rogers (1958) have also noted 
that the patient's reaction to psychotherapy may be considered in 
terms of successive stages. Many group therapists (for example, Coffev, 
1954; Martin and Hill, 1957) have observed that therapeutic groups 
also progress through a succession of stages. Coffey (1954) notes, for 
example, that after the initial structure (I) groups pass through the 
following stages : "period of defensiveness and resistance" ( II ) ; "period 
of confiding" (III); and "period of integrative-prospective" (IV) (quo- 
tations from Coffey, 1954, pp. 591-592). These observations also raise 
many questions, which require investigation. What is the relationship 
between the conceptual structures of the persons in a group and the 
structure of the group? Does "progression" in group development gen- 
eralize to the conceptual structure of the person in the group? 

The aim in this section has been to indicate some of the difficulties 
in inducing structural change in extremely closed systems, and to 
suggest a few procedures for dealing with the difficult task of reducing 
excessive closedness. As we noted at the outset, a mild degree of closed- 
ness may be necessary during certain phases of development. We regard 



340 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

development as proceeding through burst-like, saccadic leaps. Prep- 
aration for these leaps requires that the person articulate the pre- 
viously dimensionalized poles without becoming unduly closed or 
arrested so that progression can occur. The aim is not total abandonment 
of the earlier, more concrete orientation but a modification that permits 
its integration with the more abstract stage. Therefore, if parental be- 
havior and educational procedures are to accomplish their goals, they 
must not only induce progressive leaps when appropriate but they 
must also prevent the occurrence of any too-long-sustained closedness 
or arrestation. Although we consider this topic in the next section 
primarily from the viewpoint of education (since education is inten- 
tionally induced change), the principles are equally applicable to 
parental practices as well. 

The Goal of Education Is to Induce Progression 
to the Next Abstract Stage 

The goal of education in a democratic society such as ours is (or 
should be) to provide the conditions to produce more abstract con- 
ceptual structure. Educational procedures therefore aim not only to 
induce progression to the next abstract stage, when such progressive 
leaps are appropriate, but also to maintain sufficient openness to pro- 
gression continuously so that closedness and arrestation do not occur. 
If the child can be kept either in progression or in preparation for pro- 
gression, the necessity for use of time-consuming, difficult procedures 
for decreasing closedness described in the last section is unnecessary. 
Thus, one goal of education is also the prevention of excessive arres- 
tation or closedness. 

In Chapter 6 we discussed the significance of achievement within 
the various systems and the system-relevant implications of educational 
practices, including the absolutistic (system I) use of educational 
achievement tests. We re-emphasize our contention that the role of 
education in our society is not training children to achieve higher scores 
on objective, machine-scored examinations. We also disagree with 
some prevalent views of education, especially at the college level, 
which emphasize placing the student in the environment that is most 
congruent with his existing personality structure. In our view such 
procedures simply promote arrestation and thereby defeat the process 
of growth and progression, which should be the major goal of education. 

We believe that education ought to produce persons who are ques- 
tioning, inventive, original, critical, creative, and if need be different. 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 341 

We should not simply inculcate norms or produce the "well-adjusted" 
person but promote as high a degree of abstract structure as possible. 
If the person is to reach his maximum potentiality both in terms of 
social contribution and inner harmony, he must be encouraged to 
continue progressing to the maximum level of abstract structure. Per- 
sons who attain this goal will, in Fromm's ( 1941 ) words, think in terms 
of "freedom to" rather than in terms of "freedom from"; in Alper's 
(1946) terms, they will be "task-oriented" rather than "ego-oriented." 
The view of Brogan, a British political scientist, concerning the role 
of the American school system expresses this point quite clearly: 

What can it do? First of all, I think, in the present crisis it should not 
educate the pupil "for the world he is going to live in." We don't know what 
kind of world he is going to live in; all that we can be certain of is that, 
during a normal lifetime, the world will change in ways we can't now 
foresee. What we can do is to suggest that the world will change, and 
given intellectual tools for understanding that truth, intellectual prophylaxis 
against the provincialism which suggests that only the most obviously cur- 
rent problems are the real problems. (Sputnik merely called attention to 
certain defects in American education; it did not create the defects.) Un- 
less at least the more intelligent pupils are given some critical habits (in- 
cluding the habit of not believing all that their teachers tell them), we 
can be sure of one thing. They will not be at home in the world, the un- 
known world they are going to live in, and no textbooks, no courses, no 
Advice to the Lovelorn columns are going to help very much. Education 
would benefit in efficiency and prestige if it were more modest and more 
presumptuous, if it refused to claim to do so much and insisted on a hier- 
archy of values in what it can do (Brogan, 1960, p. 79). 

The teacher's task in implementing these goals is to provide the 
environmental conditions that will maximize openness and induce pro- 
gression. The teacher's task is not to teach the child the right and wrong 
responses, but to program the environment so that the child can dis- 
cover things for himself. We feel that effective education is reflected 
not in how much the child knows but rather how he uses what he knows. 
At a general level, the teacher will provide what we have described 
as informational interdependent training or what Anderson and Moore 
(1959) call "autotelic training." The central feature of an effective ed- 
ucational environment is that it provides a situation in which it is not 
too costly for the child to develop. As Lewin (1935) put it: 

Only in a sufficiently free life-space in which the child has the possibility 
of choosing his goals according to his own needs and in which, at the same 
time, he fully experiences the objectively conditioned difficulties in the at- 
tainment of the goal, can a clear level of reality be formed, only thus can 
the ability for responsible decision develop (Lewin, 1935, p. 179, italics 
ours ) . 



342 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

It follows therefore that procedures for evaluating or testing children 
must be separated from the procedures aimed to induce progression 
as completely as possible. The recent work of Sarason and his colleagues 
(1960) amply demonstrates the extreme concern that children ex- 
perience about performing well on examinations. We view excessive 
"test anxiety" as a form of closedness that effectively prevents progres- 
sion. As we have noted earlier one characteristic of certain stages be- 
yond stage I, such as stage II, is that they may be associated with less 
effective performance on standardized achievement tests. If the child 
is continually confronted by such absolutistic forms of evaluation, he 
is likely to experience the situation as too costly to risk the difficulties 
involved in progression. 

Current educational practices reward stage I or stage III functioning 
by their emphasis either upon memorization and inflexible accretion of 
facts or upon successful interpersonal relationships. Teachers rightly 
depend, initially, upon a generalization of the child's wish to please 
his parents by learning what he is required to learn. Although learning 
proceeds more smoothly when the child trusts the teacher, this bond 
of trust should be a means to an end rather than an end in itself. It may 
be too much to expect that a first- or second-grader can develop an 
adult- type valuation of knowledge-for-its-own-sake, though the eager 
curiosity of young children is remarkable. But disregarding system IV 
characteristics for the moment, children in the primary grades are 
generally discouraged from even system II functioning. Oppositional 
behavior in the form of argument, challenging of teacher's accuracy, 
curiosity in areas related to classroom subjects but outside the current 
"Unit," self-assertiveness beyond what is specifically structured to meet 
the teacher's plan — all of these are generally discouraged in our public 
schools. In this regard it is interesting to note that when one looks at 
the controversies over the approved method of teaching ( which at any 
given time is very similar to the approved method of child-rearing) 
that the issue is almost always posed in terms of reliable unilateral 
training versus protective interdependent training. Thus, one notes 
references to the "pendulum swinging back from permissiveness to 
more discipline," as if these two training conditions were the only points 
on the dimensions in which educational methods vary. 

In the present view environmental programming that utilizes oper- 
ations of informational interdependent training provides a solution to 
this difficulty, and is most likely to induce progression. It may be help- 
ful here to note briefly some possible reasons for the lack of emphasis 
upon informational orientation with its consequent progression to stage 
IV conceptual structure. 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 343 

A steadfast pursuit of progression to abstract structure produces other 
effects, some apparently disadvantageous, at least temporarily. First, 
the child who is original and creative may not necessarily be popular 
either among his peers or his teachers (cf. Getzels and Jackson, 1959), 
a circumstance that runs counter to current cultural norms, which place 
high value on social acceptance. Second, he may be a source of embar- 
rassment or threat to the teacher whose adequacy is challenged by 
questions or knowledge with which the teacher cannot cope. Third, 
as we have noted earlier, the child who is progressing toward stage 
IV may not do at all well on many achievement tests that require only 
a concretistic repetition of statements made in a book or by the teacher, 
another circumstance that runs counter to currently valued cultural 
norms. Fourth, in order to reach stage IV, one must go through stage II 
( to be inventive and creative, one must develop internal control ) , which 
may be difficult for the teacher to tolerate and to view in perspective. 

Another possible reason for the dearth of informational training lies 
in the fact that in order for the training agent ( teacher ) to use informa- 
tional interdependent training, he must be flexible and capable of ab- 
stract functioning himself. Training for progression requires that the 
training agent accept differences between students in a tolerant fashion, 
support and encourage the student's effort to try out new approaches, 
and reflect reality to the student. In addition, such training requires 
a keen sensitization on the teacher's part to the stage in which the child 
is currently functioning. How to select and prepare teachers who can 
provide such training is a vital area for future research. A prior problem, 
of course, is the way in which educational goals are valued by the culture 
and the teacher's role in implementing these goals. We may simply 
observe that it is impossible to reach some of the goals such as crea- 
tivity or inventiveness, which have come to be deemed valuable in the 
post-Sputnik era unless there is some rather dramatic reorganization of 
educational procedures, which at this time are still geared to achieve 
different, more concrete goals. 

Specific procedures for programming the environment for progres- 
sion may be derived from our detailed description (Chapter 5) of 
training conditions for inducing progression. In the current enthusiasm 
for teaching machines, simulated environments, and the like, one should 
not lose sight of the fact that these techniques are simply more efficient 
procedures for accomplishing certain educational goals. Many so-called 
teaching machines that aim only to "train in" the concretistic occur- 
rence of a specific response are, in our view, simply automated versions 
of reliable unilateral training. They are therefore as inappropriate for 
education as the use of standardized tests of achievement for evaluating 



344 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

the effectiveness of education. Put another way, one could devise 
automated versions of each of the four general training conditions 
that we have proposed. The automation is neither good nor bad, but 
the appropriateness of the automated technique must be considered in 
relation to the modification of persons with specified conceptual struc- 
ture. 

Although we have generally recommended procedures based on 
operations of informational interdependent training such as autotelic 
training, we again emphasize that the training condition must always be 
geared to the structural state of the person. Combining the observation 
that modification procedures are more efficient if directed toward a 
group of persons than toward an individual with the previous point 
that modification procedures are more effective when specifically geared 
to the conceptual structure of the person, we arrive at our final major 
implication described in the following section. 

Modification Procedures Will Be More Effective 
If Directed toward Groups of Persons Similar 
in Their Conceptual Structure 

The increased efficiency that results from directing modification efforts 
toward persons in groups is widely acknowledged both in educational 
and in psychotherapeutic circles. The problem of how to group persons, 
or the basis to use for grouping, which will not dilute the effectiveness 
of the modification effort remains a controversial and unanswered ques- 
tion as illustrated by issues of age-grading versus ability-grading in 
education. 

We propose that the most meaningful basis for grouping (for either 
educational or therapeutic purposes) is classification according to 
conceptual structure. More specifically, we propose that if persons 
are placed into groups similar in terms of degree of abstractness and de- 
gree of openness, modification procedures will lose little in effective- 
ness due to variation among group members; Put another way, we sug- 
gest that grouping of persons into the general categories indicated in 
Table 30 is one of the most meaningful ways for classifying persons 
into modificationally relevant groups. (This contention again empha- 
sizes the importance of developing methods for assessing these struc- 
tural differences). The use of age-grading or IQ-grading are both un- 
satisfactory for reasons we have described earlier. Lewin's (1935) 
comment on the use of intelligence tests is relevant: 

One major difficulty in reasoning from the results of intelligence testing 
to the problem of dynamic differences is the fact that in testing procedures, 



MODIFICATION OF CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS 345 

individual differences are determined by means of activities the psychological 
nature and general laws of which are not sufficiently known (Lewin, 
1935, p. 197). 

If students are grouped according to conceptual structure, the teacher 
may then proceed to provide the system-specific environmental con- 
ditions described in Chapter 5, which are most likely to induce pro- 
gression for the particular pattern of conceptual structure that char- 
acterizes the group. We do not propose that under these conditions the 
teacher disregard differences between individuals in the group since 
these still exist, though to a lesser degree, and must be considered. How- 
ever, these differences are minimized, and the likelihood that the struc- 
ture-specific modification effort will be appropriate for most members 
in the group is maximized. 

The problems in modifying structurally heterogeneous groups have 
been frequently described, though not in the present terms. The dis- 
ruptive effects produced in a therapeutic group by only one person 
whose conceptual structure varies from the others have been frequently 
cited, and this disruption does not always occur from heterogeneity in 
the form of a person at stage II whose structural characteristics are 
associated with disruptive, oppositional tactics. One of the authors 
observed the disruptive effects in a group comprised primarily of ag- 
gressive delinquent boys (closed system II), which proceeded with 
remarkable results after several months, but which was impeded in its 
progress by the presence of a single boy whose personality organization 
might be described as closed level I structure. 

When we recommend structurally homogeneous grouping it is for 
purposes of making maximum use of resources for environmental pro- 
gramming. The problem of homogeneity versus heterogeneity of con- 
ceptual structure may be considerably more complex in group therapy 
and to a lesser extent in some school groups, since here each group 
member is a part of the environment for each other. In these cases a 
certain degree of heterogeneity may serve a catalytic function. The 
question that deserves investigation here is what patterns of structural 
heterogeneity will be propaedeutic to progression and what patterns of 
structural heterogeneity will be disruptive. Again we simply suggest 
that the use of structural dimensions provides a basis for approaching 
this extremely important problem of group composition. 

From the viewpoint of purposive modification, either education or 
psychotherapy, therefore, the procedure must be to program the en- 
vironment for structurally homogeneous groups in order to achieve 
specific goals of structural change. 



346 CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS AND PERSONALITY ORGANIZATION 

Concluding Remarks 

In this chapter we have proposed several implications that the present 
viewpoint has for modification. The general aim of modification is to 
produce more abstract conceptual structure. In pursuing this aim, the 
current conceptual structure of the person determines the short-term 
goals of modification. Thus, if the system is closed, the initial goal is to 
induce openness, whereas if the system is open, the initial goal is to 
induce progression to the next more abstract stage. Structural change 
is very difficult to produce in extremely closed systems; however, the 
derivation of procedures to reduce closedness at various degrees of 
abstractness was described and illustrated. Because of the difficulty in 
inducing openness in arrested or closed systems, an important aim of 
educational and child-rearing procedures is to maintain openness to 
progression. The major aim of education is to provide appropriate en- 
vironmental conditions to induce progression to the next abstract stage. 
In an effort to maximize the effectiveness of resources for modification 
we suggest that grouping persons together according to similarity in con- 
ceptual structure makes possible the use of environmental programming 
speeificallv appropriate to inducing change in the most efficient fashion. 

The problems discussed in this chapter are important not only for 
the individual, in terms of his self-adequacy and experience of psy- 
chological well-being, but also for a culture like ours, which in the 
present process of increasing its valuation of creativity and inventive- 
ness, seeks wavs by which such activities can be encouraged. Every 
statement made in this chapter is essentially a proposal to be inves- 
tigated, and should be regarded as such. We feel, however, that if the 
general aim of producing more abstract conceptual structure is ac- 
cepted, the present viewpoint provides a potentially useful means of 
investigating these important problems. 



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